Friday, February 3, 2023

Russia warns of risks of sliding into nuclear war

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that any conflict between nuclear states, even if it starts with conventional weapons, is likely to escalate into an all-out nuclear war, and thus should be avoided at all costs.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the diplomat was asked about Moscow and Washington’s joint efforts to reduce their strategic capabilities. Lavrov responded by pointing out that in September 2021 the US had essentially frozen the bilateral talks on reaching an agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms, long before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.

“It’s not hard to figure out what their reasoning was,” Lavrov noted.

He admitted, however, that Washington and Moscow’s responsibilities as the two largest nuclear powers in the world do not change, and recalled a joint statement made by Russian and American leaders that a nuclear war cannot be won by anyone and therefore must not be allowed to start.

The minister added that Russia was willing to take that statement further and stressed that any conflict between nuclear states is unacceptable, as even a conventional war has a “huge” risk of escalating into a nuclear altercation.

“This is also why we are so anxiously watching the rhetoric the West spews out accusing us of preparing some alleged provocations using weapons of mass destruction,” Lavrov continued, noting that the West, including the USA, France and the UK, are doing everything to increase their almost direct participation in the conflict in Ukraine, where he says they are essentially waging war against Russia through the hands of the Ukrainians.

“This is a dangerous trend,” Lavrov warned.

The threat of a nuclear war has been a hot topic recently after Putin vowed in late September to defend Russia’s territory and people using “all the forces and resources we have.”

His remarks were then widely interpreted by Western pundits and officials as a veiled nuclear warning. Putin clarified his statement later by saying that Moscow has not even mentioned tactical nuclear weapons, let alone threatened to use atomic weapons.

During Thursday’s press conference, Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s nuclear doctrine, under which the use of WMDs is permitted only as a retaliatory response to enemy nuclear strikes or to conventional strikes that put the Russian state at risk.

Lavrov also said Moscow doesn’t need the type of European security that the West is trying to build without Russia and Belarus.

The West “is already trying to build a security architecture [in Europe] without Russia and Belarus. We don’t need such security,” he stated.

“The whole security [architecture] in Europe now comes down to it being completely subjected to the US,” he claimed.

There were discussions in France and Germany about the creation of Europe’s own military force a couple of years ago, Lavrov continued, adding but those ideas have now been set aside, with both Paris and Berlin saying they would stick with the US-led NATO bloc.

Instead of working towards collective security in Europe, the West is “digging dividing lines,” Lavrov said.

“When the EU and NATO understands the futility of their current line and the great risks that it involves, we [Russia] will look at what they’ll be ready to offer us when they come asking to discuss some other possibilities,” the FM added.

Moscow and Minsk, which already have a joint military grouping on the territory of Belarus, will continue to boost their security cooperation, the Russian foreign minister said.

Both countries realize the importance of such work, “considering the continued provocations, including those by Ukraine,” he added.

“All the necessary measures aimed at maintaining readiness to deal with any possible developments have been implemented,” Lavrov noted.

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