As US and allies arm Ukraine, Russia warns that losing a conventional war “could unleash a nuclear war”

As the United States prepares for a new shipment of military equipment for Ukraine and Kiev is urging its Western partners for modern main battle tanks and other heavy weapons, Moscow responded Thursday with a familiar series of threats. Russia again hinted at its nuclear arsenal in an attempt to dissuade the US and its NATO allies from helping Ukraine resist the large-scale invasion by President Vladimir Putin almost 11 months ago.

“It never occurs to any of the lowlifes to draw an elementary conclusion from this: the defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war can unleash a nuclear war,” said former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a top Putin ally who is now deputy chairman. is. of the Security Council, said in a message on Telegram.

“Nuclear powers have not lost major conflicts on which their fate depended,” added Medvedev, whose rhetoric has become increasingly bellicose over the course of the nearly year-long war.


Ukrainian troops in US for training on Patriot missile defense system

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Asked whether Medvedev’s startling statement represented an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine or a wider Russia standoff with the West, the Kremlin’s top spokesperson said on Thursday that the comments were consistent with Russia’s nuclear doctrine.

“There are no contradictions there,” said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church made an eerily similar comment, declaring in a sermon on Thursday that “attempting to destroy Russia would mean the end of the world.”

“Today there are very great threats to the world, to our country and to the entire human race, because some crazy people had the idea that the great Russian power, possessing powerful weapons, was inhabited by very strong people… victorious , that they can be defeated,” said Patriarch Kirill, a staunch supporter of the Kremlin’s entire policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends Orthodox Easter Mass led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at Cathedral of Christ the Savior on April 24, 2022 in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends Orthodox Easter Mass led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at Cathedral of Christ the Savior on April 24, 2022 in Moscow.

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In Washington, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said the latest comments were in line with Russia’s previous statements about the use of nuclear weapons.

“This is not the first time we have seen such kind of rhetoric from Russia broadly… We think that provocative rhetoric about nuclear weapons is not only dangerous but also reckless, it increases the risk of miscalculation and frankly it should be avoided,” said Patel. said. “A nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.”

This week, the Russian authorities staged a show of force. Putin ordered the Russian army to be expanded by about 300,000 people, increasing the number of serving soldiers to 1.5 million over the next three years. He also ordered the creation of a new army corps and two military districts near the European borders.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later drafted an ambitious plan for these changes, saying that new military structures would be created around Moscow, St. Petersburg and Karelia. The latter location is right on the border with Finland, a Nordic nation about to join NATO.

“Self-sustaining” units would also be deployed in the Ukrainian territories that Russia illegally annexed, Shogui said, despite the fact that the Russian military does not have full control of those areas.

“Ensuring the military security of the state, the protection of the new federal subjects and critical facilities of the Russian Federation can only be ensured by strengthening the main structural components of the armed forces,” said Shoigu, according to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti. .

The Kremlin called the planned military expansion a response to “the proxy war” the West says it is waging against Russia in Ukraine – a claim Moscow has long used to justify its brutal invasion.

Some analysts have noted that the changes announced this week – particularly the splitting of the current single western military district into several smaller ones – are in some ways a step into the past.

“Shoigu’s announcements since December have been a bit surreal to watch. In most cases, the attitude changes revert to the past (pre-2010 era), not a step forward,” said Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at RAND Corporation. “[His] declarations of more bats and more divisions will require more people and equipment to populate them (even if they fail the targets). This is quite a task to achieve in 2026 without major changes in the Russian economy and the workforce system.”

On Wednesday, Putin visited a defense firm, the Obukhovsky Factory in St. Petersburg, which has been placed under US sanctions, to praise efforts to increase production of weapons and heavy machinery.

Russia has lost a significant amount of equipment that has been destroyed, captured by Ukraine or abandoned by retreating Russian soldiers over the past 11 months. Independent Russian and international media have also reported extensively on the numerous cases of poorly equipped Russian soldiers ending up on the front lines, pointing to production problems in the country’s military-industrial complex.

Putin told workers at the factory that Russia rightly called Ukraine a country full of “neo-Nazis”, insisting that victory was “inevitable”.

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