In a bold declaration, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary refused to quash the potential for nuclear weapons to be used in Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
CNN reports Dmitry Peskov repeatedly denied ruling out the possibility of a nuclear attack in order to achieve Russia’s military goals.
“If it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be,” Mr Peskov told CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
Mr Peskov doubled down on Russia’s goals to demilitarise Ukraine and accused the government of being “nationalist battalions”.
When asked about how Russia was progressing in the conflict, Mr Peskov vaguely hinted Mr Putin “hasn’t achieved” his goals to date but said it was “going on strictly in accordance with the plans and the purposes that were established beforehand”.
Putin last month ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert.
In line with the order, Russia’s defence ministry said on February 28 that its nuclear missile forces and northern and Pacific fleets had been placed on enhanced combat duty, the Interfax news agency reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on March 14 that “the prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility”.
The comments come after United States President Joe Biden warned that Putin was considering using chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine, as he described Moscow’s tactics as increasingly “brutal”.
Last week Russia said it had launched its Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile that can hit targets anywhere on Earth within an hour.
Putin said in December that Russia was the global leader in hypersonic missiles, whose speed, manoeuvrability and altitude make them difficult to track and intercept.
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