Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a stark nuclear warning to the West on Saturday as relations remain tense amid the ongoing Ukraine war.
Tensions between Moscow and the West escalated after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Many Western nations, like the USA, condemned Putin’s war while also providing humanitarian and military support to Ukraine. This aid has bolstered Ukraine’s defense efforts while adding more pressure to already tense U.S.-Russia relations.
A chief concern among national security experts amid the conflict is that Russia may potentially turn to nuclear weapons should they feel cornered by Ukraine’s advances. Russia has sent mixed messages about nuclear war, with Putin warning in August that nobody would win in a nuclear war, while his allies taunt the West with nuclear threats.
Medvedev served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012, being succeeded by Putin. He currently serves because the deputy secretary of Russia’s security council, and on Saturday became the most recent Russian official to create a nuclear threat.
In a Telegram post made after last week’s funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the final president of the Soviet Union, Medvedev accused the West of attempting to take “benefit of the military conflict in Ukraine” to “eliminate Russia from the political field.”
“Those will be the dirty dreams of the Anglo-Saxon perverts, who fall asleep with a secret considered the breakup of our state, considering how exactly to shred us into pieces, cut us into small bits.” Medvedev wrote in the translated post. “Such attempts have become dangerous and mustn’t be underestimated. Those dreamers ignore a straightforward axiom: a forceful disintegration of a nuclear power is definitely a chess game with death, where it’s known precisely once the check and mate comes: doomsday for mankind.”
While U.S. leaders have condemned Russia’s invasion and Putin’s leadership in Russia, they will have not needed any “breakup” of the Russian nationor for just about any offensive action against Russia, as direct military action against Moscow would greatly escalate nuclear tensions.
Last month, Medvedev said Ukraine and the West “appear to be prepared to arrange a fresh Chernobyl” as concerns grew that Russian activity at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) may lead to a nuclear reaction.
Other Russian politicians also have left the entranceway open on Russia’s usage of nuclear weapons amid the war, though Putin has typically used more measured rhetoric himself. In March, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Russia would use nuclear weapons if leaders felt like their country was facing an “existential threat.”
Russian-state television, which typically pushes Putin’s propaganda, however, has made more forceful threats of nuclear warfare. In April, television personality Vladimir Solovyov warned of a nuclear war that only “mutants” would survive if member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) continued providing Ukraine weapons.
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Department of State for comment.