Russia's threat of nuclear weapons use against Ukraine is "cowardly" and "completely insane," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that his country will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, its neighbor and ally, is "a cowardly way to threaten and blackmail the West, not just Ukraine," the prime minister, whose country joined NATO in 2009, told Kyodo News in a recent interview.
Putin's comment in a March 25 state television interview was the most recent signal by him about the possible use of nuclear weapons, which has triggered global concern.
The Albanian leader also said Russia's control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest on the continent, in southern Ukraine also reflects Moscow's cowardice and weakness.
Rama, who visited the atomic bomb memorial site in the Japanese city of Hiroshima in February, said he prayed that the use of nuclear weapons will not be repeated.
"No goal, no ambition, no reason, no justification can be found in the sane mind for the use of nuclear weapons," he said.
Albania, which abandoned communist rule in 1990, is eyeing to join the European Union.
As the war enters its 14th month, the prime minister said that democratic countries will continue to support Ukraine.
They cannot afford to "let Vladimir Putin invade another country with no resistance...and to let down Ukraine," he said, adding that the West is also "protecting itself."
"The impact of the war on the security of Europe, including Albania, can be very vast in case the war goes wrong," he said. "If Putin succeeds in his hazard game, then everything will change."
Rama also criticized Iran for supplying attack drones used by Russia in the war.
He praised Japan for working with the West on security issues. Calling Japan a "great friend," he also said Albania wants to work with it on cyber-security issues.