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Russia threatens ‘full-fledged nuclear war’ with NATO

Russian strategic missile forces training exercise. (Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/WikiCommon)
May 12, 2022

Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev warned on Thursday that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) continued support of Ukraine against Russian invasion forces raises the risk of the conflict “turning into a full-fledged nuclear war.” 

In a post on the Telegram app, Medvedev accused Western “talking heads” of “trying with all their might to introduce the thesis that Russia is scaring the world with a nuclear conflict into the agenda.” Medvedev then said it was NATO’s own actions that were raising the risk of nuclear conflict.

“The pumping of Ukraine by NATO countries with weapons, the training of its troops to use Western equipment, the dispatch of mercenaries and the conduct of exercises by the countries of the Alliance near our borders increase the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia instead of their ‘war by proxy,'” said Medvedev, who now serves deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council.

“Such a conflict always has the risk of turning into a full-fledged nuclear war,” Medvedev added. “This will be a catastrophic scenario for everyone. That’s all. Therefore, do not lie to yourself and others. You just need to think about the possible consequences of your actions. And do not choke on your own saliva in the paroxysms of Russophobia!”

Medvedev’s comments are similar to other Russian officials who have spoken on the risks of the ongoing fighting in Ukraine expanding into a larger conflict with nuclear weapons. Russian officials have repeatedly said they want to avoid a nuclear conflict, but have said NATO support for Ukraine continues to raise that possibility.

Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia agreed on the “inadmissibility of nuclear war” and said avoiding such conflict is “our principled position” but said NATO’s arms support to Ukraine means that “now the risks are very significant.”

In a March interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia could use nuclear weapons if it perceived an “existential threat.”

Russia has already issued a nuclear threat that goes beyond the conflict in Ukraine. In April, Medvedev said Russia would end its policy against placing nuclear weapons in the Baltics and suggested sailing ships armed with nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles near Sweden and Finland if the Scandinavian countries joined NATO.

Sweden and Finland have pressed forward with applications to join the NATO alliance, and Russian officials have continued to warn against such action. On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said if Finland joined NATO “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard.”