In case of ‘existential threat’: Kremlin details Russia’s doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons

by WorldTribune Staff, March 23, 2022

Vladimir Putin is not ruling out a nuclear strike if Russia faces an “existential threat,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Peskov, in a CNN interview, referenced Russian military doctrine that allows the use of nuclear weapons under certain circumstances, even in conventional arms conflicts.

A rocket launches from missile system as part of a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile test launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia on Dec. 9, 2020. / Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

“We have a concept of domestic security, and it’s public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used,” Peskov said. “So if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept.”

A June 2020 Russian presidential directive on nuclear deterrence specifies a number of situations under which Russia could use nuclear weapons:

• Arrival of reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies.
• Use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction by an adversary against the Russian Federation and/or its allies.
• Attack by an adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions.
• Aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.

The issue of a potential nuclear strike by Russia entered the spotlight when Putin put his country’s nuclear forces on high alert several days after ordering his troops to move against Ukraine.

Putin claims that discussions about nuclear escalation are being driven by hostile comments by leading members of NATO and by punishing Western sanctions, which he said were like a declaration of war.

Putin also warned that any attempts by other countries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences for Europe and the world, a comment many analysts and officials interpreted as a threat to take the conflict nuclear.

The issue also grabbed headlines when Russian troops seized the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe after an attack that set an adjacent administrative building on fire, sparking fears of a nuclear disaster that could eclipse the one that took place in Chernobyl.

Earlier in March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he “doesn’t want to believe” there would be a nuclear war over Ukraine, a statement some analysts interpreted as a veiled threat.

At the same time, Lavrov accused the West of being obsessed with the theme of nuclear escalation, claiming this, and not Russia’s actions, was a “cause for concern.”


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