Putin ally warns NATO of nuclear war if Russia defeated in Ukraine

  • Medvedev: Nuclear powers won’t lose major wars
  • Medvedev tells NATO to consider risks
  • Patriarch: Desire to destroy Russia will mean the end of the world
  • Lavrov: We will ‘wake up’ NATO leaders

MOSCOW, Jan 19 (Reuters) – An ally of President Vladimir Putin warned NATO on Thursday that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war, while the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said that if the West Try to destroy the world, the world will go to doomsday Russia.

The apocalyptic rhetoric was aimed at preventing the U.S.-led NATO military alliance from getting further drawn into the war on the eve of a meeting of Ukrainian allies to discuss sending more weapons to Kyiv.

But an explicit acknowledgment that Russia could lose on the battlefield marked a rare public skepticism by a key member of Putin’s inner circle.

“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war could lead to a nuclear war,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, vice-chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, said in a Telegram post.

“The nuclear powers have never lost a major conflict that will determine their destiny,” said Medvedev, who was president from 2008 to 2012.

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church struck a similar tone in what he described as a moment of anxiety for the country in an Epiphany sermon, saying that trying to destroy Russia would spell the end of the world.

Medvedev said NATO and other defense leaders scheduled to meet Friday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss strategy and support for Western efforts to defeat Russia in Ukraine should consider the risks of their policies.

Putin described Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine as an existential battle against an aggressive and arrogant West and said Russia would use all means at its disposal to protect itself and its people.

“Alarm Time”

The Kremlin leader has worked hard in recent months to prepare the Russians for a tougher fight while promising ultimate victory in a war Western leaders said he would never win.

The United States has denied Russian claims it wants to destroy Russia, while President Joe Biden has warned that a conflict between Russia and NATO could trigger World War III.

But top Putin allies say tens of billions of dollars worth of US and European military aid to Ukraine shows that Russia is now pitting itself against NATO itself – a Cold War nightmare for Soviet and Western leaders.

“We pray to God that he will make madmen think rationally and help them understand that any desire to destroy Russia will mean the end of the world,” Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said in a sermon.

“Today is a shocking moment,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA. “But we believe that God will not leave the land of Russia.”

Putin’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told reporters in Minsk that Russia would do everything it could to ensure that NATO and EU leaders “come to their senses” as soon as possible.

“I hope to calm down,” Lavrov said. “We will do everything we can to bring our colleagues from NATO and the EU to their senses as quickly as possible.”

nuclear theory

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine sparked one of the deadliest European conflicts since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The United States and its allies have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is driven from its territory.

Medvedev, who has repeatedly raised the threat of nuclear war since Russia invaded Ukraine, is now acknowledging that Russia could lose, signaling the extent of Moscow’s concern over increased Western arms supplies to Ukraine.

Russia and the United States are by far the largest nuclear powers, possessing about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.

Asked whether Medvedev’s remarks indicated Russia was escalating the crisis to a new level, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “No, that’s definitely not what it means.”

He said Medvedev’s remarks were fully in line with Russia’s nuclear doctrine, which allows a nuclear strike after “aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the existence of the state is threatened”.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow and Felix Light in Tbilisi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source link