Putin says West is wrong to assume Russia would never use nuclear weapons

Putin says West is wrong to assume Russia would never use nuclear weapons
# 06 June 2024 04:32 (UTC +04:00)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the West was wrong to assume that Moscow would never use nuclear weapons and said that he was considering deploying conventional missiles in striking distance of the United States and its allies, APA reports.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis - and the Kremlin has repeatedly warned that the risk of a global war is rising.

Putin, speaking face-to-face to senior editors of international news agencies for the first time since the war in Ukraine began, dismissed Western claims that Russia could attack NATO as "stupid", citing the military strength of the alliance.

But when asked about the risk of nuclear war, the 71-year-old Kremlin chief said that Russia's nuclear doctrine did allow the use of such weapons if the country's territorial integrity or sovereignty was threatened.

"For some reason, the West believes that Russia will never use it," Putin said when asked by Reuters about the risk of nuclear escalation over Ukraine during more than three hours of questioning.

"We have a nuclear doctrine, look what it says. If someone's actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible for us to use all means at our disposal. This should not be taken lightly, superficially."

Russia's published 2020 nuclear doctrine sets out the conditions under which a Russian president would consider using a nuclear weapon: broadly as a response to an attack using nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, or to the use of conventional weapons against Russia "when the very existence of the state is put under threat."

Putin dismissed Western assertions that Russia has employed nuclear sabre rattling and pointed out that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war - attacking the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

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