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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Kremlin clarifies stance on use of nuclear weapons

They will only be deployed should the Russian state’s existence be threatened, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said

Russia would only employ its nuclear arsenal should the very existence of the country be put on the line, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has clarified. Such deployments are described as a “farewell weapon” in Moscow’s doctrine governing their use, he added.

The document outlines that Russia would retaliate with nuclear weapons if it or its allies were subjected to a first strike. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last June that there was “no need” to use them as they are meant strictly as a deterrent.

Read more: Bombs aren’t free, EU tells Zelensky

Speaking on Wednesday, Peskov stated that “if something threatens the existence of our country, then nuclear weapons [will be employed].” He stressed that given how serious the topic is, it cannot be treated lightly.

During his annual address to the Federal Assembly last Thursday, President Putin reminded would-be aggressors that all previous attempts to conquer Russia had ended in failure, warning that “now the consequences for potential invaders would be far more tragic.” He emphasized that Russia has a massive nuclear arsenal, which is in a state of “complete readiness for guaranteed deployment.”

The Russian leader also noted that Western officials, while perhaps not fully comprehending this, were essentially ushering in an all-out nuclear war with their increasingly escalatory rhetoric.

Read more: West worried Zelensky ‘getting out of control’ – Lavrov

He also dismissed as “unfounded” Western media reports claiming that Moscow was planning to deploy nuclear weapons into space, and characterized them as a ploy by the US to push Russia into negotiations on terms set by Washington.

Around the same time, the Financial Times, citing leaked presentations for Russian naval officers supposedly produced between 2008 and 2014, alleged that Moscow’s threshold for using shorter-range tactical nuclear weapons may be lower than what Western defense experts had estimated.

According to the article, the Russian military viewed a battlefield situation where losses incurred “would irrevocably lead to their failure to stop major enemy aggression” and threaten the “state security of Russia” as valid grounds to use nuclear weapons. The destruction of 20% of Russia’s strategic missile submarines, 30% of nuclear-powered attack submarines, or simultaneous strikes on main and reserve coastal command centers were reportedly cited as specific examples.

Peskov, in turn, told the newspaper at the time that the Kremlin “strongly doubts” the veracity of the leaked papers.