Russia on Tuesday told the UN that they could end up using nuclear weapons in response to “direct aggression” by western countries.
Speaking at the month-long nuclear non-proliferation conference, Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov said speculation that Russia has threatened to use its nuclear arsenal against Ukraine is “utterly unfounded, detached from reality and unacceptable”.
The envoy said Russia 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”.
“None of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine,” he said, but blamed Nato countries of a “fierce hybrid confrontation” against Russia that now “dangerously balances on the edge of an open military clash”.
“Such a move would be able to trigger one of the two emergency scenarios described in our doctrine,” Mr Trofimov added. “We obviously stand for preventing this, but if western countries try to test our resolve, Russia will not back down.”
The diplomat also accused the US of “direct involvement” in the Ukraine war, which Russia calls a “military operation”.
Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden on Monday said he was ready to pursue a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and urged Moscow to “act in good faith”.
Mr Putin had in turn, said the world was “edging towards catastrophe” and said there would be “no winners in a nuclear war”.
Both Mr Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin had issued written statements before the month-long UN conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The conference was supposed to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conference was taking place “at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War”.
“Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” warned the UN chief.
He also said crises “with nuclear undertones are festering” by citing the Middle East, North Korea and Russia’s Ukraine invasion.