Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect the territories of Ukraine that it will absorb after referendums are held.
Referendums to join Russia will be held in the Donbas republics of Donestk and Luhansk and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions starting Friday. “Referendums will be held, and the Donbas republics and other territories will be accepted into Russia,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram.
Medvedev, who currently serves as the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, said that the protection these territories will be “significantly strengthened” by joining Russia.
“Russia announced that not only mobilization capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization on Wednesday and also warned the West that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect its “territorial integrity.”
Putin also expressed support for the referendums, implying that Russia will consider attacks on the areas it controls in Ukraine as attacks on Russian territory once they are absorbed, which Medvedev made more explicit.
The US shows no sign of reconsidering its policy of supporting Ukraine in the war despite the risk of provoking Moscow, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to say he will recapture all Russian-controlled territory.