- Medvedev: nuclear forces do not lose major wars
- Nuclear war is possible if a nuclear power loses, he says
- Medvedev tells NATO to think about the risks
- Patriarch: the desire to destroy Russia would mean the end of the world
MOSCOW, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, warned NATO on Thursday that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war.
In a similar tone in what he described as a troubling time for the country, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said an attempt to destroy Russia would mean the end of the world.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Medvedev has repeatedly raised the threat of a nuclear apocalypse, but his current admission of the possibility of Russia’s defeat shows Moscow’s level of concern about increased supplies of Western weapons to Ukraine.
“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war could trigger a nuclear war,” Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful Security Council, said in a Telegram post.
“Nuclear forces have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends,” said Medvedev, who was president from 2008 to 2012.
Medvedev said NATO and other defense leaders, who are due to meet at Ramstein air base in Germany on Friday to discuss strategy and support for the West’s attempt to defeat Russia in Ukraine, should think about the risks of their policies .
Russia and the United States, the largest nuclear powers, hold about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads. It is Putin who makes the final decision on the use of nuclear weapons.
Asked if Medvedev’s remarks meant Russia was escalating the crisis to a new level, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “No, it absolutely does not mean that.”
He said Medvedev’s remarks were fully in line with Russia’s nuclear doctrine which allows for a nuclear strike following “aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened.”
While NATO has conventional military superiority over Russia when it comes to nuclear weapons, Russia has nuclear superiority over the alliance in Europe.
Putin described Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West and said Russia would use all available means to defend itself and its people.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine sparked one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
The United States and its allies have denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from its territory.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said in a sermon: “We pray to God to enlighten the mad and help them understand that any desire to destroy Russia will mean the end of the world.”
“Today is a worrying time,” state news agency RIA quoted him as saying. “But we believe that God will not leave the Russian land.
DOESN’T GIVE UP
Since a a somber message on New Year’s Eve describing the West as Russia’s real enemy in the war against Ukraine, Putin sent several signals that Russia would not back down. He has they sent hypersonic missiles to the Atlantic and appointed his senior general to lead the war.
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia powerful military-industrial the complex increased production and was one of the main reasons his country prevailed in Ukraine.
Washington has not publicly specified what it would do if Putin ordered what would be the first use of nuclear weapons in war since the United States unleashed the first atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency William Burns warned Putin’s intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin in November of the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons by Russia, U.S. officials said at the time.
Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads, while the US has 5,428, China 350, France 290 and the UK 225, according to Federation of American Scientists.
Medvedev, 57, who once portrayed himself as a reformer who was willing to work with the United States to liberalize Russia, has transformed since the war as the most publicly hawkish member of Putin’s circle.
He said the nuclear risks of the Ukraine crisis should be obvious to all Western politicians who have “retained at least some vestiges of intelligence”.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow and Felix Light in Tbilisi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan
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