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Putin’s ally Medvedev warns NATO of nuclear war if Russia is defeated in Ukraine

By Guy Faulconbridge and Felix Light

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, warned the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Thursday that Russia’s defeat in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war .

“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war can trigger a nuclear war,” Medvedev, deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, said in a message on Telegram.

“The nuclear powers have never lost the major conflicts on which their fate depends,” said Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012.

Medvedev said NATO and other defense leaders, who were to meet at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday to discuss strategy and support for the West’s bid to defeat Russia in Ukraine, should think about the risks of their policy.

Russia and the United States, by far the largest nuclear powers, hold about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads. Putin is the ultimate decision maker on the use of nuclear weapons.

While NATO has conventional military superiority over Russia, when it comes to nuclear weapons, Russia has nuclear superiority over the alliance in Europe.

Putin presents Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine as an existential battle against an aggressive and arrogant West, and said Russia would use all available means to protect itself and its people against any aggressor.

WAR

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine sparked one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The United States and its allies have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from its territory .

Since a grim New Year’s message portraying the West as Russia’s real enemy in the war on Ukraine, Putin has sent several signals that Russia will not back down. He sent hypersonic missiles into the Atlantic and appointed his general-in-chief to lead the war.

Putin said on Wednesday that Russia’s mighty military-industrial complex was ramping up production and was a key reason his country would prevail in Ukraine.

Russia’s nuclear doctrine authorizes a nuclear strike after “an aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened”.

Washington did not specify what it would do if Putin ordered what would be the first use of nuclear weapons in a war since the United States launched the first atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki in 1945.

Medvedev, 57, who once presented himself as a reformer willing to work with the United States to liberalize Russia, has redefined himself since the war as the most publicly hawkish member of Putin’s circle.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Medvedev has repeatedly raised the threat of nuclear chaos and used insults to describe the West.

Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads while the United States has 5,428, China 350, France 290 and the United Kingdom 225, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow and Felix Light in Tbilisi; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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