In an interview with CNN on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the world should be worried about the prospect of Russia using nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine.
“Not only me — all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried,” Zelensky said when asked if he was concerned Russia could use a tactical nuclear weapon. “Because it can be not real information, but it can be truth,” he added.
Zelensky’s comments came after CIA Director William Burns said the US “cannot take lightly” the threat of Russia using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But Burns stressed that the US has seen no “practical evidence” that indicates Russia is planning a nuclear strike.
For their part, Russian officials have said they would only use nuclear weapons if Russia’s existence was threatened. “Any outcome of the operation, of course, is not a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the end of March.
“We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state, in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat for the existence of our country,” Peskov added.
One way the war in Ukraine could spiral into a nuclear war is if the US and NATO intervened. Zelensky has been pleading with the Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would entail shooting down Russian warplanes and bombing surface-to-air missiles inside Russian territory.