Kremlin spokesperson says Putin would use nuclear weapons in face of ‘existential threat’


close up of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a video emergency meeting of the Council of the CSTO focused on the situation in Kazakhstan on January 10, 2022.Alexey Nikolsky/Getty Images

  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons on Tuesday.

  • “If it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used,” he said.

  • Russia’s policy allows for it to use nuclear weapons in response to conventional warfare.

Russian President Vladimir Putin would only use nuclear weapons if he felt his country’s very existence was being threatened, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Tuesday.

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Peskov said Putin’s threat to use nuclear arms was meant to send a message.

“President Putin intends to make the world listen to and understand our concerns,” he said. “We’ve been trying to convey our concerns to the world — to Europe, to the United states — for a couple of decades but no one would listen to us.”

Days after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Putin ordered his country’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert. He has also warned that any country that interferes with his designs on the country “should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history.”

Speaking to CNN, Peskov refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons.

“We have a concept of domestic security and, well, it’s public, you can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used,” he said. “If it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used.”

According to a 2020 statement on Russia’s nuclear policy, signed by Putin, the country would use nuclear weapons in two scenarios: in response to the use of nuclear weapons or other unconventional arms against Moscow or its allies — or in response to “aggression” using conventional arms “when the very existence of the state is put under threat,” per the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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