New Russian Nuclear Threat

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.11 - 2024 7:45 PM CET

New Russian Nuclear Threat.

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Dmitry Medvedev, a high-ranking Russian official and close ally of President Vladimir Putin, issued a stark warning on Thursday regarding potential Ukrainian attacks on Russian missile launch sites. He cautioned that such actions, especially if carried out with weapons supplied by the United States and its allies, could provoke a nuclear response from Moscow.

According to Reuters, Medvedev, the former President of Russia and currently the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, cited discussions among some Ukrainian military commanders about targeting Russian missile sites with Western-supplied long-range missiles. He did not specify which commanders were involved or elaborate on the alleged plans. Ukraine has not yet responded to Medvedev's remarks.

Medvedev's warning centered on Paragraph 19 of Russia's 2020 nuclear doctrine, which outlines the scenarios that might lead to Russia deploying nuclear weapons. These scenarios include a response to nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction attacks or conventional weapon attacks that threaten the existence of the Russian state. Point "g" of the paragraph particularly pertains to nuclear responses to conventional weapon attacks.

While President Putin is the ultimate authority over Russia's extensive nuclear arsenal, Medvedev's comments reflect hawkish sentiments within the Kremlin. The Russian leadership has framed the conflict in Ukraine as a fundamental battle against the West. Kremlin critics, however, have sometimes dismissed Medvedev's past nuclear threats as posturing or efforts to deter Western support for Ukraine. The West has committed nearly $250 billion in military and other assistance to Kyiv.

The specter of nuclear escalation has been a constant backdrop to the Ukraine conflict since Russia's military incursion in February 2022. Late in 2022, Washington expressed fears of a potential Russian nuclear move, with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan communicating these concerns to Moscow.

Russia and the United States possess the largest nuclear arsenals globally, with Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden controlling 5,889 and 5,244 nuclear warheads, respectively, as per the Federation of American Scientists.

Medvedev, who served as the Russian President from 2008 to 2012 and was once seen as a liberal modernizer, has now assumed a role as one of the Kremlin's most vehement anti-Western figures. His latest statements underline the heightened tensions and the grave risks associated with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.