No need for nuclear weapons in Ukraine – Moscow
There are no targets in Ukraine that warrant a Russian nuclear strike, so claims that Russia could use nuclear weapons in its ongoing military operation are absurd, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has insisted. He was speaking during a security conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
“The use [of nuclear weapons] is restricted to emergencies only, as outlined in Russian guidelines that are publicly available,” he added, noting that the weapons are meant as a deterrence against foreign aggression.
Shoigu said that “claims of possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine are absurd too,” since Russia destroyed its stockpile in an effort that was completed in 2017. False accusations of such attacks have been used by Western-backed groups in Syria in the past, he added.
The Russian minister, who was speaking during the opening of the Moscow Conference for International Security, said the situation with strategic weapons reduction and control was at a difficult spot due to the ongoing confrontation between the US and Russia.
“American statements that claim that Russia has to earn the right to continue dialogue with the US are beyond the pale. Weapons control is a two-way street,” he stressed.
The Russian official said Washington was an unreliable partner when it came to the balance of strategic power. The US scrapped several key treaties with Russia over the years, which Moscow says seriously hurt transparency in military affairs.
“I suppose the Russian experience engaging the West in the area of disarmament demonstrates that the so-called ‘rules-based order’ they promote does not provide for fulfilling treaty obligations,” Shoigu said. The lessons learned from it will direct Russia’s future international agreements on security and arms control, he said.
In particular, there is a “difficult situation with” the NEW START treaty, which limits the number of nuclear weapons, the minister noted. The document needs to be renewed before 2026 to remain in force.
Shoigu assessed that the security situation in Europe was worse at the moment than during the Cold War, blaming NATO for it.
“The military activities of the alliance have become fully aggressive and anti-Russian in nature,” he said, citing deployments of American troops and weapons in Eastern Europe. He added that the strengthening of NATO forces began long before Russia attacked Ukraine in February.
Commenting on the operation in Ukraine, Shoigu said it has disproven the notion that ‘game-changing’ Western weapon systems can turn the tide on the battlefield.
“First, they spoke that way about the Javelin anti-tank missiles and ‘unique’ drones. Later, the pro-West people promoted the HIMARS multiple launch rockets system and long-range howitzers as ‘superweapons,’” he said.
These weapons are destroyed just like any others and don’t affect the situation in a significant way, the minister stressed. Meanwhile, the Russian forces study the equipment that is captured on the battlefield to identify ways to counter it, he added.