Putin loyalist raises nuclear rhetoric as NATO partners push more weapons into Ukraine
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and a key ally of President Vladimir Putin, warned on Thursday that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.
The former Russian president made the threat in a telegram message ahead of a key meeting of NATO allies and other nations where they are expected to offer more pledges of military support to Kiev.
“The loss of nuclear power in a conventional war would lead to the outbreak of a nuclear war,” Medvedev wrote.
“Nuclear powers are not missing out on major conflicts on which their fate depends. This should be clear to anyone. Even a Western politician who has preserved at least a trace of intelligence.”
Medvedev, Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012, struck a belligerent tone during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and repeatedly raised fears of nuclear conflict.
Last April, he warned of Russian nuclear expansion if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, and in September he said he could use strategic nuclear weapons to defend territories annexed by Russia from Ukraine.
His comments on Thursday, no doubt aimed at scaring NATO partners, also appear to be a rare admission by a senior Russian official that the Kremlin may lose in Ukraine as Moscow’s faltering invasion closes in 11 months.
The nuclear showdown comes days after Moscow said it plans to increase its military because of the “proxy war” the West is waging in Ukraine.
This Friday, the NATO Ukraine Security Liaison Committee will discuss increasing military aid to Ukraine under the chairmanship of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
The Pentagon announced a $2.5 billion defense package for Ukraine on Thursday. The United States and its European allies are debating whether to send more sophisticated weapons to Kiev, including long-range missiles that can hit targets up to 200 miles away.