Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and vocal mouthpiece has issued an ominous warning over the “threat of a direct military clash between nuclear powers” in a furious rant against the US.
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been representing his country at a mass gathering of leaders at the Xiangshan Security Forum in Beijing, China.
Putin and his aides have regularly boasted about Russia’s huge arsenal of nuclear weapons since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022.
Shiogu has now furiously repeated the Kremlin rhetoric about Russia’s status as a nuclear weapons superpower and hinted at possible ramifications in the face of continued sanctions and condemnation from the West.
He said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency: “The Western policy of steady escalation of the conflict with Russia carries the threat of a direct military clash between nuclear powers, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences.”
Russia’s defence minister described his country’s decision to withdraw from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty earlier this month as a way to restore “parity with the United States, which has not ratified this treaty.”
The Putin mouthpiece also tore into the US and NATO by accusing them of continuing “to try to undermine Russia’s security and deprive us of the will to resist,” according to Russian state news agency Tass.
Shiogu accused the West of trying to expand the war in Ukraine to Asia-Pacific and claimed NATO members are bolstering their military presence in the region under the cover of an “ostentatious desire for dialogue.”
He also alleged the support from the West for Ukraine during the current conflict showed that it is seeking a “strategic defeat of Russia.”
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Zhan Youxia, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, also appeared to back up Shiogu’s claims by taking a veiled swipe at the US.
He said: “Some countries deliberately create turbulence and interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.”
China is officially neutral on Russia’s war in Ukraine but has previously opposed the Kremlin’s nuclear rhetoric. Both remain close allies, with trade between the two countries recently surging.
Earlier this month, Putin began preparing a “massive” retaliatory nuclear strike to wipe out Russia’s enemies in the event of a rival nuclear attack.
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The Kremlin said Russia’s Strategic Deterrence Forces conducted exercises under the leadership of the 71-year-old president, according to Russian state-owned news outlet RIA Novosti.
Putin reportedly first heard reports on the nuclear weapons exercises from Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
Shoigu said the “tasks of delivering a massive nuclear strike by strategic offensive forces in response to an enemy nuclear attack are being worked out”, according to the publication.
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