Russia may be forced to use a nuclear weapon if Ukraine’s counteroffensive succeeds, senior Russian official and former Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev has said, the latest in a series of nuclear threats made during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Medvedev, who served as president of Russia from 2008 to 2012, has struck a hawkish tone throughout Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, repeatedly raising possibility of nuclear conflict.
Last April, he warned of Russian nuclear expansion should Sweden and Finland join NATO. Helsinki joined the defense alliance later that month, while Stockholm’s path to NATO membership was cleared earlier this month after Turkey dropped its objections.
In September 2022, Medvedev said strategic nuclear weapons could be used to defend territories incorporated into Russia from Ukraine.
In January this year, as NATO member states debated new weapons shipments to Ukraine, Medvedev said defeat for Russia in the war could lead to nuclear conflict.
On Sunday, July 31, he threatened nuclear weapons use.
“Just imagine that the offensive… in tandem with NATO, succeeded and ended up with part of our land being taken away. Then we would have to use nuclear weapons by virtue of the stipulations of the Russian Presidential Decree,” said Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, in a Telegram post.
“There simply wouldn’t be any other solution,” the former Russian president added. “Our enemies should pray to our fighters that they do not allow the world to go up in nuclear flames.”
“The loss of a nuclear power in a conventional war can provoke the outbreak of a nuclear war,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram in January. “Nuclear powers do not lose major conflicts on which their fate depends.
“This should be obvious to anyone. Even to a Western politician who has retained at least some trace of intelligence.”
Medvedev’s remarks show that Russia believes it could potentially lose the war following nearly 18 months of fighting.
They also came just hours after Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Kyiv of attacking Moscow with drones.
Russia has about 4,477 deployed and reserve nuclear warheads, including around 1,900 tactical nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists.