Russia’s ambassador to US warns against potential nuclear conflict

Russia announced on Thursday that the Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions will be formally annexed on Friday.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022. (photo credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL METZEL/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022.
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL METZEL/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov penned an op-ed in The National Interest magazine on Wednesday in which he called on the US and Western powers to stop threatening Russia’s territorial integrity and collaborating with Ukrainian armed forces – noting that the risk of nuclear conflict remains.

“I would like to warn American military planners about the fallacy of their assumptions that a limited nuclear conflict is possible,” declared Antonov. “They apparently hope that the United States would be able to take cover behind the ocean if such a conflict happens in Europe with British and French nuclear weapons. I would stress that this is an extremely dangerous experiment.”

Antonov was responding to a statement by US Senator Lindsey Graham, who warned Russia that a nuclear attack on Ukraine would be “an attack on NATO as a whole” on Wednesday.

“I would like to add that certain American politicians are under a delusion if they think that our readiness to defend our territory does not apply to Crimea or to territories that may become part of Russia," Antonov declared. 

Russia announced on Thursday that the Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions will be formally annexed on Friday after local referendums ruled in favor of joining the Russian Federation. Western powers have refused to recognize the aforementioned regions and have questioned the legitimacy of the referendum, with many referring to it as a sham.

 Russian service members take part in a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV) Russian service members take part in a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)

“Today it is obvious that the United States is directly involved in the military actions of the Kyiv regime. Washington is openly building up the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine and providing it with intelligence. They jointly plan military operations against the Russian Armed Forces. Ukrainians are being trained to use NATO military hardware,” the ambassador continued. 

The United States has sent Ukraine more than $16.9 billion in military assistance since the beginning of 2021, according to the State Department.

“It feels like Russia is being tested to see how long it will remain patient and refrain from responding to blatantly adversarial actions and attacks. In fact, Washington is pushing the situation towards a direct confrontation of the major nuclear powers fraught with unpredictable consequences,” Antonov added. 

“We take Russia’s threat seriously”

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price was asked about the referendums and subsequent annexation on Wednesday. “We have been clear when it comes to certain longer-range systems with our Ukrainian partners that these systems are for use on sovereign Ukrainian territory,” Price declared, adding that “their (Ukraine’s) military strategy is their military strategy.”

When asked if this policy applies to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Price responded that “Crimea is Ukraine. Obviously.” 

"Crimea is Ukraine"

Ned Price, US State Department Spokesperson

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was also asked about nuclear threats emanating from the Russian Federation. “We take Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons seriously... But we have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” said Jean-Pierre.