Moscow outlines conditions for use of nuclear weapons
Russia could potentially resort to nuclear weapons only if its very existence were to be put at risk, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), which is being attended by delegates from more than 100 countries, Zakharova reiterated that Moscow regards its nuclear weapons as a last-ditch defensive measure.
“Russia’s nuclear deterrent policies are purely defensive in nature, and the hypothetical use of nuclear weapons is clearly limited to extraordinary circumstances,” Zakharova said.
She explained that those could include an attack on Russia or its allies involving nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, or “a conventional aggression that threatens the very existence of the state.”
“This fundamental point remains unchanged,” she stressed.
The spokeswoman went on to reiterate that “Russia is fully committed to the principle that a nuclear war should never be fought.” “There could be no winners in it,” she said, urging other nuclear countries to embrace this stance as well.
Zakharova’s remarks come after last week Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would start the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in early July once all the required facilities are ready. Russia first announced plans to place such weapons in the neighboring country in March in response to the UK having decided to equip Ukraine with depleted-uranium shells.
Commenting on the matter on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg denounced Russia’s nuclear rhetoric as “reckless” and said that the US-led military bloc is closely monitoring the situation. However, he noted that “so far, we haven’t seen any changes in the [Russian] nuclear posture that requires any changes in our posture.”
Fears that Russia might use its vast nuclear arsenal amid the Ukraine conflict were rekindled in the West after late last year Putin signaled that Moscow would use “all the means available to us” to defend its people and territory. However, senior Russian officials have on numerous occasions insisted that Moscow is not threatening anyone with nuclear weapons.