Kremlin Spokesman Rules Out Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine – Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Russia could be inclined to use tactical nuclear weapons if the country faced an “existential threat.” The comments sparked widespread concern that Russia was seriously considering using nuclear weapons as its invasion of Ukraine falters, but Kremlin Spokesmen Dimitri Peskov clarified in an interview with PBS on Monday that nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used as part of the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Ukraine Invasion Not an “Existential Threat”
Asked by reporter Ryan Chilcote to clarify Russia’s position on the use of nuclear weapons, Peksov insisted that Russia will complete its military operation in Ukraine, but added that whatever the outcome, it will “not be a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon.”
“We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat or the existence of our country,” Peskov said, adding that the invasion of Ukraine and a potential threat to Russia should be kept separate.
“I mean, existence of the state and special military operation in Ukraine,” he said. “They have nothing to do with each other.”
Chilcote pushed Peskov further, noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to suggest that he would use nuclear weapons if a third party – in the case of NATO – suddenly became directly involved in the war in Ukraine. When asked if that was the case, Peskov insisted, “No, I don’t think so, I don’t think so.”
Pushing even further, Chilcote asked Peskov to clear the matter up and rule out the use of nuclear weapons entirely, prompting the Kremlin spokesman to say that not only is Russia not “thinking about using” nuclear weapons, but that the nation’s government is not even thinking about the “idea” of using nuclear weapons.
Peskov Rejects War Crime Accusations
On the topic of war crimes committed in Ukraine and an ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court, Peskov insisted that Russian does not accept the jurisdiction of the court at The Hague.
Not only did Peskov dismiss the ICC investigation, but he also denied that Russian troops are targeting civilians.
“They are not shelling houses. They are not shelling apartments. They are not shelling civil objects,” Peskov claimed, adding that Russian troops are only shelling military infrastructure with the goal of demilitarizing Ukraine.
Peskov claimed that the damage done to residential buildings in the city of Mariupol, almost entirely destroyed by Russian troops, was caused by “Nazi battalions inside Mariupol” who he also claimed are murdering innocent Ukrainian civilians.
The damage done by Russian troops in Mariupol prompted the city’s mayor to call for the total evacuation of what’s left of the city, after around 5,000 people were killed.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.