One of the main allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly raised on Tuesday the specter of a nuclear attack on Ukrainestating that the US-led military alliance would stay out of the conflict for fear of a nuclear apocalypse.
Dmitri Medvédevformer president of Russia who now serves as vice president of the country’s Security Council, he said that Moscow has the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons if it is pushed beyond its limits and that this is “certainly not a joke”.
On Wednesday, Putin ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War II and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West that he meant business when he said he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
“Let us imagine that Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime, which has committed a large-scale act of aggression that is dangerous for the very existence of our stateMedvedev said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.
Under Russian nuclear doctrine, the president can use nuclear weapons if the state faces an existential threat, including from conventional weapons.
“I think NATO would not directly interfere in the conflict even in this scenario”, Medvedev said. “Demagogues across the ocean and in Europe are not going to die in a nuclear apocalypse”. Medvedev stressed that “it would be good if the kyiv government became aware, even in part, of this sad conclusion.”
About 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads are in the hands of Russia and the United States, which remain by far the world’s largest nuclear powers.
“I have to remind you again, for those deaf ears that only listen to themselves. Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessaryMedvedev said, adding that he would do so “in predetermined cases” and in strict compliance with state policy.
The publication on Telegram by the former Russian president comes after the United States warned Moscow on Sunday that any use of nuclear weapons would have “catastrophic consequences” for Russia, as Washington and its allies would respond “decisively.”
The warning was formulated by the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who stated that the possible use of nuclear weapons must be “taken very seriously” for the first time since World War II.
Medvedev’s comments also come at a time when Russia is preparing to annex large swaths of Ukrainian territory, following referenda in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine. Ukraine and the West have denounced the vote as an illegal farce.
Medvedev, who ran as a liberal president from 2008 to 2012, has regularly issued belligerent statements about the war in Ukraine.
(With information from Reuters and EFE)