Russian officials play down Putin’s nuclear threat

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The deputy foreign minister says Russia is not seeking an “open confrontation” as an ambassador claims Washington and Moscow are not near the “rope” of a nuclear conflict.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a thinly veiled nuclear threat to Ukraine and its Western allies, Russian officials downplayed the warnings.

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On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was not threatening the use of nuclear weapons and that any confrontation with NATO and the United States was not in the interest of the Kremlin.

“We are not threatening anyone with nuclear weapons,” Ryabkov told reporters. “The criteria for their use are outlined in the military doctrine of Russia.”

(al Jazeera)

In a televised address earlier this week, Putin said he was “not deceiving” about using nuclear weapons if Russian territories were threatened as he partly intended to promote military fighting in Ukraine. The mobilization was announced.

But Ryabkov said Russia was not seeking an “open confrontation” with the US or NATO and did not want the situation to escalate.

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Also on Friday, Russia’s ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said he would like to believe that “despite all the difficulties, Moscow and Washington are not on the verge of falling into the abyss of nuclear conflict”, RIA Novosti news agency reported .

And two retired Russian generals told Al Jazeera they believed a nuclear conflict was unlikely.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers an address dedicated to the military conflict with Ukraine in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin announces 300,000 more troops [Russian Presidential Press Service/Kremlin via Reuters]

On Wednesday, Putin announced Russia’s first mobilization since World War II and told the public that his country was fighting against the military resources of Western countries backing Ukraine and Kyiv.

During the address, Putin said that he supports referendums in four regions going on in Ukraine.

Russian officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, said that once the regions joined Russia, Ukrainian attacks on these regions would be considered a direct attack on Russia.

This would mean that under Russia’s nuclear doctrine, it could allow the use of nuclear weapons if Moscow feels it faces an “existential threat”.

Meanwhile, speeches at the UN Security Council on Thursday were highly critical of Russia, with the non-aligned nation joining the US and its allies in condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who attended the UN meeting, said Ukraine has become an “anti-Russian platform for creating threats against Russian security”.

Credit: /

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