Dmitry Medvedev

Deputy Russian Security Council Chair Dmitry Medvedev (left) speaks with a Russian military officer while visiting the Prudboy range in the Volgograd region, southern Russia, on June 1, 2023.

(Photo: Yekaterina Shtukina/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Medvedev Says 'No Other Option' But Nuclear War if Ukrainian Counteroffensive Succeeds

The former Russian president and current deputy Security Council chair warned of "global nuclear fire" should Ukraine take back regions illegally annexed by Moscow.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the current deputy chair of the nation's Security Council, threatened to wage nuclear war if Ukraine's counteroffensive to repel Russian invaders and reclaim territories they occupy is successful.

"Imagine if the... offensive, which is backed by NATO, was a success and they tore off a part of our land, then we would be forced to use a nuclear weapon according to the rules of a decree from the president of Russia," Medvedev wrote on Telegram, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin's Decree No. 305.

Signed in 2020, the doctrine authorizes use of nuclear weapons after "aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened."

"There would simply be no other option," added Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012. "So our enemies should pray for our warriors. They are making sure that a global nuclear fire is not ignited."

Russia conquered and unilaterally annexed regions of Ukraine including Crimea in 2014 and Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia last September. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the annexation of the four oblasts by formally applying for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—whose decadeslong expansion to Russia's borders has been cited by Moscow as a provocation for the invasion of Ukraine.

Medvedev and other top Russian officials have raised the threat of nuclear war on numerous previous occasions, including when Western nations provided Ukraine with weapons. In January, Medvedev warned that "the defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war," and that "nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends."

Last month, Putin said Russia had begun deploying tactical nuclear warheads in neighboring Belarus, from which Russian troops have invaded Ukraine.

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