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.