“Rising risk of nuclear war, but we won’t strike first”
Vladimir Putin publicly admits Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, but reiterates: “Yes, we are doing it. But who started it?”. “Who hit the Crimean bridge? – asked the Russian president, listing the raids attributed to Kiev – Who blew up the power lines at the Kursk nuclear plant?”.
Putin said the threat of nuclear war is growing, but that Russia will not be the first to strike. Putin, in a meeting with the human rights council he appointed, also insisted that Russia’s nuclear weapons serve only to protect the country and its allies. Russia’s military strategy, the Kremlin leader said, involves the use of weapons of mass destruction but only in response to an attack. “This means that if an attack is launched against us, we will strike back,” Putin said, noting that Russia views nuclear weapons as a “natural deterrent”. “We are sane and aware of what nuclear weapons are,” he added, as quoted by state news agency Tass.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin mobilized Russia’s nuclear weapons, a move seen as a message to the United States and NATO countries to stay on the sidelines of the war. There were also fears that the Russian military could use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine to get results faster. In addition, former President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the National Security Council in Moscow, has repeatedly spoken about the possibility of nuclear war. Putin said during the meeting that the “danger of nuclear war is growing”. At the same time he said that Russia does not have its “nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territories of other countries, the Americans do – in Turkey and other states in Europe.”
According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russia has stopped threatening to deploy nuclear weapons because “the international community has drawn a red line”. “During my visit to Beijing, Chinese President Xi and I jointly said that nuclear weapons must not be used. Shortly after, the G20 reiterated this position,” Scholz told German media and French newspaper Ouest-France .