An ally of President Vladimir Putin has warned the Russian despot is “certainly not bluffing” as he issued a chilling nuclear threat to the West. Dmitry Medvedev, a former president who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said Russia had the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons if it is pushed beyond its limits and that this is “certainly not a bluff”.
Outlining the scenario of a nuclear strike on Ukraine, he said the US-led NATO military alliance would be too scared of a “nuclear apocalypse” to directly enter the conflict in response.
Medvedev said in a post on Telegram: “Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime which had committed a large-scale act of aggression that is dangerous for the very existence of our state.
“I believe that NATO would not directly interfere in the conflict even in this scenario.
“The demagogues across the ocean and in Europe are not going to die in a nuclear apocalypse.”
He added: “I have to remind you again – for those deaf ears who hear only themselves. Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary,” adding that it would do so “in predetermined cases” and in strict compliance with state policy.
Medvedev’s remarks quoted the exact terminology of one of the conditions of Russia’s nuclear strike doctrine which reads: “Aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened.”
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National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US would respond decisively to any Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and has spelt out to Moscow the “catastrophic consequences” it would face.
Around 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads are held by Russia and the US, who remain by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers.
Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads while the US has 5,428 warheads, China has 350, France has 290 and the United Kingdom has 225, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Medvedev’s comments come as Russia prepares to annex large swathes of Ukrainian territory after sham referendums on joining Russia in areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) warned Putin would likely announce the accession of occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation during his address to parliament on September 30.
The MoD said in its latest intelligence briefing: “Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the special military operation and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict.
“This aspiration will likely be undermined by the increasing domestic awareness of Russia’s recent battlefield setbacks and significant unease about the partial mobilisation announced last week.”
Voting in the Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the east and southeast began on Friday and has been dismissed as a sham by Western nations, which have pledged not to recognise the results.
Over the weekend, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would defend any territory it annexes using any weapons in its arsenal.
Moscow’s nuclear sabre rattling indicates Putin is trying to scare the West into reducing its support for Ukraine by hinting at using a tactical nuclear weapon to defend the annexed territories of the neighbouring country.