President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia could change its military doctrine by introducing the possibility of a pre-emptive strike to disarm an enemy, in clear reference to a nuclear strike.
He was speaking in response to a question from a reporter asking him to clarify his statement made earlier this week about the use of nuclear weapons.
Speaking to reporters just days after warning that the risk of nuclear war was rising but Russia would not strike first, Putin said Moscow is considering adopting what he called Washington’s concept of a preemptive strike.
“First, the United States has the concept of pre-emptive strike. Second, it is developing a system of disarming strikes,” Putin told reporters in Kyrgyzstan.
Putin said Moscow may need to think about adopting American “ideas to ensure their own security.”
“We’re just thinking about it,” he said.
“If a potential adversary believes it’s possible to use the concept of a preemptive strike, but we don’t, it still makes us think about the threats such ideas pose to us.”
Putin claimed that Russia’s cruise missiles and hypersonic systems were “more modern and even more efficient” than those in the United States.
On Wednesday, Putin warned that nuclear tensions were rising, though he insisted Moscow would not be the first to deploy nuclear weapons.
At the same time, he said, “If we’re not the first to use them under any circumstances, then we won’t be the second to use them.”
On the same day, the US State Department rebuked the Russian leader saying that “any loose talk about nuclear weapons is absolutely irresponsible”.
Banished from the public consciousness for decades, the nightmare of nuclear warfare has come back to the fore since Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February, highlighting the erosion of the Cold War’s global security architecture.
With Moscow hot on its heels on its offensive, the military stalemate has sparked fears that Russia could resort to its nuclear arsenal to achieve a military breakthrough.
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