Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zahkarova told a news briefing that Russia may use nuclear weapons in self-defense, at an address on June 15 in Peterburg.
"Russia's nuclear deterrence policy is strictly defensive. The hypothetical use of nuclear weapons is clearly limited by extraordinary circumstances within the framework of strictly defensive purposes," she said.
Zakharova insisted that Russia was intent on maintaining the principle that nuclear war was inadmissible.
"There can be no winners in it. It must never be unleashed. We consistently call on all other parties to the joint statement of the leaders of the five nuclear states on the prevention of nuclear war and the inadmissibility of an arms race to adhere to these postulates," Zakharova stressed, according to the Russian-state-owned media TASS.
Despite her reassurances that Russia would not use nuclear weapons, she did not rule out Russia’s decision to halt the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced that Russia was suspending its participation in START on February 21, 2023.
"In this case, yes, only if Washington shows the political will and exerts efforts to ease tensions and de-escalate and create conditions for the resumption of the full functioning of the treaty," Zakharova added.
Russia’s previous nuclear threats
Despite Zakharova’s reassurances that Russia is not planning to use nuclear weapons for offense, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has been quoted as saying that "There are irreversible laws of war. If it comes to nuclear weapons, there will have to be a pre-emptive strike.”
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has also been quoted as saying that Russia and the West are heading toward a “nuclear collision” if the West continues to send military aid to Ukraine.
Russia has also begun transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus, which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed “are three times more powerful than those (dropped on) Hiroshima and Nagasaki."