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Russia Ministry of Foreign affairs issues statement on ‘prevention of nuclear war’

The Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs issued a statement saying Russia could “hypothetically” use nuclear weapons only defensively or if the very existence of the state is threatened:

Russia is strictly and consistently governed by the postulate that nuclear war is impermissible, there can be no winner in it, and it must never be unleashed. Russian doctrine in this area is extremely clearly defined, it is purely defensive in orientation and does not permit broad interpretation. A reaction by Russia with the use of nuclear weapons is hypothetically allowed only in response to aggression carried out with WMDs, or with conventional weapons if the very existence of the state is under threat.

The ministry said that its first priority is the prevention of any military conflict between nuclear powers. It called on other countries which possess nuclear weapons to “demonstrate in practice their willingness to resolve this priority problem, and to abandon dangerous attempts to infringe upon each other’s vital interests, which balance on the brink of direct armed conflict.”

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Russian president Vladimir Putin regularly threatens to use nuclear weapons. On February 24, during a speech to Russians about the beginning of the war, he promised that a response “you’ve never encountered in history” awaited anyone who decided to intervene.

In September, Putin said that, given a threat to Russia’s territorial integrity, the country would use “every means at its disposal.” Shortly afterward, Russia announced the formal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

On November 1, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that returning all Ukrainian territory constitutes a threat to Russia’s existence.

The New York Times reported that Russian leaders have recently discussed the possibility of using nuclear weapons.

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