On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia wasn’t threatening anyone with nuclear weapons and said Moscow doesn’t want a direct conflict with the US and NATO.
“We are not threatening anyone with nuclear weapons,” Ryabkov said. “The criteria for their use are outlined in Russia’s military doctrine.”
Russia’s doctrine is that it could use nuclear weapons if it is facing an “existential threat,” and Russian officials have made clear throughout the current war in Ukraine that this is still the policy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Moscow could use nuclear weapons to defend its “territorial integrity.” While his comments were a more explicit warning, it still falls in line with the doctrine.
But Russian territory is set to expand into Ukraine after referendums that are being held in the Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine is planning to launch more counter-offensives against these territories using weapons and intelligence provided by the US and other NATO countries.
Ryabkov said that it’s not in Russia’s interest to be in a direct conflict with the US and NATO. “A face-off with the United States and NATO, which is fraught with an open armed conflict, is not in our interests,” he said.
“We hope that the Biden administration understands the risks of uncontrolled escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, given the repeated statements by their officials that they don’t plan to send American servicemen to Ukraine,” Ryabkov added.
President Biden has repeatedly stated that he won’t send US troops into Ukraine to fight Russia, although there is a CIA presence on the ground, according to a report from The New York Times that was published in June. The report also said special operations forces from Britain, France, Canada, and Lithuania are on the ground in Ukraine.