The President of Russia, Vladimir Putinsaid Wednesday that the threat of nuclear war was growing, but insisted that his country had not “gone mad” and would not use its nuclear weapons first.
The president insisted that his country would only use weapons of mass destruction in response to an attack.
LOOK: How war in Ukraine reignites global fear of nuclear conflict
Speaking at the annual meeting of Russia’s human rights council, Putin also said the war in Ukraine could be a “long process.”
Western officials believe Putin initially planned for a quick victory, something that did not happen. The war began on February 24 of this year and an end is not in sight anytime soon.
Moscow’s ability to use nuclear weapons has come under increased scrutiny since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Such a threat is growing, it would be a mistake to hide it,” Putin warned as he spoke about the possibility of nuclear war.
However, he stated that Russia “under no circumstances” would use the weapons first and that it would not threaten anyone with its nuclear arsenal.
“We have not gone crazy, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are,” he said, adding: “We are not going to run around the world brandishing this weapon like a razor.”
Putin also boasted that Russia has the most modern and advanced nuclear weapons in the world, and compared its nuclear strategy to that of the United States, which he said had gone further than Moscow in locating its nuclear weapons elsewhere.
“We do not have nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territory of other countries, but the Americans do, in Turkey and in several other European countries,” he said.
Putin had previously noted that Russia’s nuclear doctrine only allows for the defensive use of nuclear weapons.
The Russian head of state said that the results of the war are already “significant”.
He welcomed the fact that the annexations had turned the Sea of Azov, which borders southeastern Ukraine and southwestern Russia, into Russia’s “internal sea”, adding that this was an aspiration of Tsar Peter the Great, someone with whom has been compared in the past.
The Kremlin claimed new territories after disputed referendums branded illegal by the international community in four regions of Ukraine – Kherson, Zaporizhia, Luhansk and Donetsk – although it does not control much of those areas.
Last month, Russian forces were forced to withdraw from the city of Kherson, the only regional capital they had taken since the February invasion.
Setbacks on the front line have led Russia to target Ukraine’s power grid with massive airstrikes across the country that caused widespread damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and left millions without heat or electricity for hours, or even days, while temperatures dropped below zero.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klichko has warned that the Ukrainian capital, which has been hit hard by power outages, could face an “apocalypse.”
“Kyiv could lose electricity, water and heating supplies. The apocalypse could happen, like in Hollywood movies, when it is not possible to live in houses due to low temperatures,” Klichkó told Reuters.
Although heated shelters have been installed in the city, Klichkó admitted that there are not enough for all residents and that people should be ready to evacuate if the situation worsens.
In Russia, any possible criticism of Putin’s invasion was blocked before the human rights council.
In the run-up to Wednesday’s meeting, 10 council members who had expressed doubts about the war were ousted. In their place they put people in favor of the war.
The topics to be discussed during the meeting were also examined beforehand, according to the independent Russian media outlet. Verstka.
In recent weeks, Russia’s nuclear doctrine has come under close scrutiny over when nuclear weapons could be used, particularly a “tactical” weapon that could be deployed on the Ukrainian battlefield.
A tactical nuclear weapon is for use in combat, as opposed to larger “strategic” weapons that are designed to cause mass destruction.
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