Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Thursday that Moscow had never “intentionally said anything” about the use of nuclear weapons, but said that as long as the weapons existed there was always the danger of their use.
And he denied that Russia planned to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
“We never intentionally said anything about the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons. We only responded with hints of (nuclear threats) from Western leaders,”
Putin said, accusing Western governments, including former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” against Russia.
He also accused the West of “forcing the thesis that Russia will use nuclear weapons” to influence neutral countries against Moscow. He pointed out that Russian military doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons only for “defense” purposes.
Putin also reiterated Russia’s groundless claims that Ukraine was building a dirty bomb to be used on its own territory and blamed Moscow for it.
Russia has accused Ukraine of planning the use of a so-called dirty bomb, which combines conventional explosives like dynamite and radioactive materials like uranium. Kyiv and its Western allies say there is no truth to the accusation and that Moscow may be mounting a false flag operation.
Ukraine has invited experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit two facilities which the Russian government claims – without evidence – are involved in a plan to create a dirty bomb.
More background: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the consequences for Russia if it uses a nuclear weapon in its war against Ukraine were passed on to Putin.
Blinken also denounced Russia’s latest claim that Ukraine views the use of a “dirty bomb” as “another fabrication and something that is also the height of irresponsibility on the part of a power. nuclear”. Blinken reiterated that the United States was following the Kremlin’s nuclear sabers “very closely,” but had “seen no reason to change our nuclear posture.”
Despite Putin’s rhetoric, Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin told CNN on Wednesday that Russia will not use nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine.
However, actions taken by Moscow in recent weeks — allegations of a ‘dirty bomb’, attacks on civilian infrastructure, impending battlefield defeats and its annual military exercise — have heightened concerns, a senior official said. administration.
This official told CNN that the potential collapse of parts of the Russian military in Ukraine could be the factor that could lead Putin to turn to the use of nuclear weapons. As such, the United States is closely monitoring developments in the Kherson region, where it is not easy for Russian soldiers to retreat.
Russia has briefed the United States on its annual GROM exercise, which includes its strategic nuclear forces, the Pentagon said. The Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday that Putin was leading military training exercises involving practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles.
Despite growing concerns, US officials have seen no evidence of Russian actions that would indicate Moscow is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood contributed to this post.