MOSCOW (Reuters) – A close ally of President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that any Ukrainian attack on missile launch sites in Russia with weapons supplied by the United States and its allies would risk a nuclear response from Moscow.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now vice chairman of the Russian Security Council, said some Ukrainian military commanders were considering hitting missile launch sites in Russia with long-range missiles supplied by the West.
He did not name the commanders or disclose further details about the alleged plan and Ukraine did not immediately respond to his threat.
“What does this mean? It means only one thing: they risk encountering the action of paragraph 19 of the fundamental principles of Russian state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence,” he said. writes Medvedev on the messaging application Telegram.
“This must be remembered,” Medvedev said.
Paragraph Nineteen of the 2020 Russian Nuclear Doctrine defines the conditions under which a Russian president would consider using a nuclear weapon: generally in response to an attack using nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, or in the use of conventional weapons against Russia “when the very existence of the state is threatened. »
Medvedev specifically mentioned point “g” of paragraph nineteen which deals with the nuclear response to a conventional weapons attack.
Putin is the decision-maker when it comes to Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal, but diplomats say Medvedev’s views give an indication of hawkish thinking at the top of the Kremlin that has framed the war as an existential struggle with the West.
Kremlin critics have dismissed some of Medvedev’s nuclear threats in the past, calling them attempts to attract attention or dissuade the West from supplying more weapons to Ukraine. The United States and its allies have pledged nearly $250 billion in military and other support to kyiv.
The risk of a nuclear escalation has loomed over the war in Ukraine since Russia sent thousands of troops to its neighbor in February 2022.
Washington feared a Russian nuclear escalation at the end of 2022 and Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, expressed his concerns to Moscow that year about any move to use a nuclear device.
Russia and the United States are by far the world’s largest nuclear powers: Putin controls 5,889 nuclear warheads while U.S. President Joe Biden controls about 5,244 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Medvedev presented himself as a liberal modernizer when he was president from 2008 to 2012, but now presents himself as one of the Kremlin’s fiercest anti-West hawks.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Andrew Osborn)
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