A former Russian President has warned the Kremlin will issue a “preemptive nuclear strike” against Ukraine and its Western allies, including the United Kingdom, if the defending nation is provided with their own warheads. Dmitry Medvedev, who was President from 2008 to 2012, between Vladimir Putin’s two autocratic rules, said during a trip to Vietnam that the West was failing to grasp Russia’s willingness to bring about nuclear war.
After the Fighter Jet coalition was announced last week, meaning US-made F-16s could be making their way into Ukraine this year, Medvedev suggested the West should refrain from escalating its support any further.
Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Putin’s security council, said: “There are some irreversible rules of war.
“If it comes to [deliveries of] nuclear weapons [to Ukraine], a preemptive strike will have to be carried out.”
Calling on the West to take his remarks seriously, he added: “It will mean that a missile with a nuclear warhead will come flying to them.”
Medvedev is the only other man alive, apart from Putin, who has had his finger on the Russian nuclear button.
Russian threats of nuclear war against Ukraine and the West have become a trope of Kremlin rhetoric in the last 15 months.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, countless state media commentators and even Vladimir Putin himself have suggested they will fire tactical nuclear warheads against Ukraine and other European cities, including London, if Western support continues.
Each time the West has overcome its hesitancy to send offensive weapons to Ukraine – first with rocket launchers in the early stages of the conflict, then with main battle tanks this January, then over the supply of longer-range missiles, led by the UK in April, and finally with the fighter jet coalition announcement this month – Russian officials have threatened “serious” retaliation.
Earlier this year, Putin also suggested the US had set a precedent for the use of nuclear weapons when they used atomic bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of the Second World War.
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Dmitry Medvedev, one of the few Russian officials with Twitter, is one of the most common sources of these threats.
Last month, when Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested Ukraine had a right to hit Russian territory, Medvedev warned on Twitter that Poland would be destroyed for its comments.
After calling Mr Morawiecki a “dumbhead”, he said: “Considering Poland’s role as a NATO outpost in Europe, this country is sure to disappear together with its stupid prime minister.”
Notwithstanding the routine threats, however, most Western analysts and officials believe the chances of Russia sending a nuclear weapon are minimal.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has given both the UK and the US assurances that it will not strike beyond the Russian border, with its new weaponry.
In his latest round of threats, Medvedev added that the conflict in Ukraine could last for decades with long periods of fighting.
He said: “This conflict will last a very long time, most likely decades.
“As long as there is such a power in place [in Kyiv], there will be, say, three years of truce, two years of conflict, and everything will be repeated.”
That is why “it is necessary to destroy the very nature of the Nazi power in Kyiv”, he claimed.
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