Russian officials downplay Putin’s nuclear threat | Russia-Ukraine war news

Russia is not seeking “open confrontation”, the deputy foreign minister has said, as the ambassador insists Washington and Moscow are nowhere near the “depth” of a nuclear conflict.

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

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that Moscow does not threaten to use nuclear weapons and that any confrontation with NATO and the US is not in the Kremlin’s interest.

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

(Al Jazeera)

In a televised address earlier this week, Putin said he was “not bluffing” about using nuclear weapons if Russian territories were threatened as he announced a partial mobilization to step up military fighting in Ukraine.

But Ryabkov said Russia does not seek “open confrontation” with the US or NATO and does not want the situation to escalate further.

Also on Friday, the Russian ambassador to the USA, Anatoly Antonov, said that he wants to believe that “despite all the difficulties, Moscow and Washington are not on the verge of collapsing into the abyss of a nuclear conflict”, reports the RIA Novosti news agency. reported.

And two retired Russian generals told Al Jazeera they thought the likelihood of a nuclear conflict was low.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will give a speech in Moscow dedicated to the military conflict with Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the addition of 300,000 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 people would fight against the military resources of Western countries supporting Ukraine and Kiev.

In his address, Putin said he supports the ongoing annexation referendums in four regions of Ukraine.

Russian officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have said that once the regions have been incorporated into Russia, Ukrainian attacks on those areas would be considered a direct attack on Russia.

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

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

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who participated in the UN meeting, said Ukraine had become an “anti-Russian stage to create threats to Russia’s security”.