Russia-Ukraine war live news: US denounces Putin’s ‘loose talk’ on nuclear weapons; Zelenskiy reports fierce fighting in Bakhmut

US responds to Vladimir Putin’s musing on risks of nuclear war; Ukrainian president says ‘every metre counts’ defending city in Donetsk region

At a glance: what we know on day 288 of the invasion

The US has denounced “loose talk” on nuclear weapons after Russian President Vladimir Putin mused on rising risks of nuclear war but said Moscow would not strike first.

Putin hinted that “such a threat is rising” during a Kremlin meeting on Wednesday but assured that “Russia will under no circumstances use them first”.

We think any loose talk of nuclear weapons is absolutely irresponsible.”

We think any other rhetoric – whether it is nuclear saber-rattling or even raising the spectre of the use of tactical nuclear weapons – is something that is irresponsible,” Price said.

It is dangerous, and it goes against the spirit of that statement that has been at the core of the nuclear non-proliferation regime since the Cold War.”

This threat is increasing, I can’t deny it,” Putin said in response to a question, adding that Russia would not use those weapons first.

We have not gone crazy, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are. We have these means, and they are more advanced and more modern than those of any other nuclear country. As of today, this is an obvious fact.

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