The threat of nuclear warfare has once again dominated discussions amid the conflict in Ukraine, with a Russian defence magazine claiming Moscow is planning a new strategy against possible US attacks.

Although Moscow said it would only use nuclear weapons in case Russia’s territorial integrity were threatened, the Kremlin has repeatedly suggested calamity could be close.

Most recently, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov repeated the threat of nuclear war when he condemned the US and Nato for “fuelling the conflict in Ukraine”.

He warned that their increasing involvement could lead to a “direct military clash of nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences”.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends the Conference on Disarmament at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Speaking at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Thursday, he said Moscow has been forced to suspend its participation in the New Start nuclear arms control treaty because Washington was using it to help Ukraine attack Russian strategic sites.

The treaty, signed in 2010, limits the number of nuclear warheads between the two countries and gives each the power to inspect the other’s weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said Moscow was not withdrawing from the pact altogether, with Mr Ryabkov confirming to the UN that Russia would respect the caps on nuclear weapons set under the treaty.

But he added that is the US “openly demonstrates an intention to resume” nuclear tests, saying that Russia “will be forced to respond”.

“We can’t stand idle,” he said.

More on Nuclear Weapons

What does the nuclear report say?

The remarks came as a Russian defence ministry journal claimed Moscow is developing a new type of military strategy using nuclear weapons to protect against possible US aggression, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

The article in Voennaya Mysl (Military Thought) magazine, reportedly authored by Lieutenant-General Igor Fazletdinov of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, claims Washington is becoming more aggressive because it is “gradually losing its leading position in the world and blames Moscow”, according to the Russian Information Agency.

The US had therefore “apparently” prepared plans to strike Russia to neutralise it.

In response, Russian specialists were “actively developing a promising form of the strategic use of the Russian armed forces – an operation of strategic deterrence forces”, before suggesting Moscow would, if necessary, be prepared to deploy its nuclear arsenal.

The article, according to RIA, states “such action should suppress the US global missile defence system to ensure that Russian ballistic missiles cannot be destroyed in the air”.

The Russia’s defence ministry has not publicly commented on the article.

Despite the Russian threats, Western officials do not believe the Kremlin would launch a nuclear weapon.

“The good news is, I don’t think they’re likely to do so,” said US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, Colin Kahl.

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