Russia’s ambassador to the US said on Thursday that NATO leaders are not taking the threat of nuclear war seriously enough.
“The current generation of NATO politicians clearly does not take the nuclear threat seriously,” ambassador Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek.
While it’s widely believed that a direct war between NATO and Russia would quickly turn nuclear, the danger doesn’t appear to be factored into the Western approach to the war in Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the US and its NATO allies have been pouring weapons into the country and are openly sharing intelligence with the Ukrainians that is being used to kill Russian troops. On top of the strong support for Ukraine, the US and many other NATO countries have abandoned diplomacy with Moscow.
The Western campaign clearly risks sparking a direct war with Moscow, prompting Russian officials to warn of the danger of nuclear war. But the US has denounced the Russian warning as saber-rattling and continues to escalate its support for Kyiv. Antonov criticized what he called “a flurry of blatant misrepresentation of Russian officials’ statements on our country’s nuclear policy.”
Antonov reiterated Russia’s stance on the potential scenarios where it would use nuclear weapons. He said they “can be used in response to the use of WMD against Russia and its allies, or in the event of aggression against our country when the very existence of the state is jeopardized.”
The US and Russia possess about 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, but today, there is only one major arms control treaty between the two nations, the New START, which limits the number of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads each power can have deployed. Early on in Biden’s presidency, he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to extend New START for five years, but progress on arms control has stalled since.
At a summit in Geneva last June, Biden and Putin agreed that the US and Russia would hold arms control talks, but Antonov said the dialogue has been “frozen” by Washington. “Regrettably, Washington has unilaterally ‘frozen’ the bilateral strategic stability dialogue that was launched at the Geneva summit, thus jeopardizing the prospects of keeping the foundation of arms control in place,” he said. “Russia is ready to resume the consultations as soon as the United States is ready.”