By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The conflict in Ukraine does not justify Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to “direct aggression” by NATO countries over the invasion, Russia said. Tuesday at the United Nations. .
At a conference on nuclear non-proliferation, Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov rejected “totally unfounded, unrealistic and unacceptable speculation that Russia is allegedly threatening to use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine.”
Within days of Russia’s invasion on February 24, Putin put the country’s deterrent forces, which include nuclear weapons, on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow. .
Trofimov, a senior diplomat in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s nonproliferation and arms control department, said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state. .
“Neither of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine,” Trofimov told the UN conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
However, he accused NATO countries of a “fierce hybrid confrontation” against Russia that is now “poised dangerously on the brink of open military clash.”
“Such a move could trigger one of two emergency scenarios outlined in our doctrine,” Trofimov said. “Obviously we are in favor of avoiding this, but if Western countries try to test our resolve, Russia will not back down.”
Russia on Tuesday accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war.
Moscow said it was responding to comments from a Ukrainian official about the way Kyiv had used US-made and supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, based on what the official called excellent footage. satellite and real-time information.
(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)