Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined on Thursday when his country would use nuclear weapons.
The Russian leader escalated his nuclear rhetoric at an annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, declaring that Moscow has successfully tested the nuclear-powered, nuclear-capable Burevestnik cruise missile—a claim Kremlin officials had denied just days earlier.
There have been growing fears throughout Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that Russia may use nuclear weapons.
Many fear that Ukraine retaking Crimea would be a red line for Russia and that Putin may use his country’s nuclear capabilities to defend the territory. Putin illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
“In the event of an attack on Russia, no one has any chance of survival,” Putin warned.
In a wide-ranging speech, Putin said Russia’s military doctrine outlined two reasons for the country’s potential use of nuclear weapons—the first being a counter attack should another country first launch a nuclear strike on Russia.
He said no nation would survive a retaliatory nuclear strike from Russia.
“To date, there will be no chance for the aggressor to survive in the event of our response,” he said.
The second reason, Putin said, is a threat to the existence of the Russian state, even if conventional weapons are used against the country. Putin said he saw no reason to lower the bar for using nuclear weapons, as one Russian analyst had suggested.
“I don’t see the need for this. There is no situation in which today something would threaten the existence of Russian statehood. I think no person in his right mind would think of using nuclear weapons against Russia. And a potential enemy knows about our capabilities,” he added.
The Russian leader said back in September 2022 that he’d be prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people—this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation at the time.
Putin was also quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying Thursday that the “last successful test of the Burevestnik, a global-range cruise missile with a nuclear installation, a nuclear propulsion system, has been conducted.”
When Putin first announced the program to develop the Burevestnik in 2018, he touted it as a “a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries.”
Putin didn’t say when the latest test took place.
Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry for comment via email.
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