Russia has warned that the United States will be “playing with the devil” by implementing President Donald Trump’s new nuclear weapons strategy, which identifies Russia and China as main threats and calls for producing small nuclear warheads for "limited" operations.
"Voices have been getting louder in the United States that seek to increase the role of nuclear weapons and expand the possibilities of the US nuclear arsenal," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Thursday.
Zakharova added that Washington was justifying the desire to expand its nuclear arsenal by resorting to the "mythical Russian threat."
Earlier this year, Trump unveiled a new nuclear strategy that revolved around countering Russia and called for the development of small tactical nuclear weapons that were cheaper to maintain and could be used in more realistic scenarios.
The Trump administration has also accelerated long-running US military plans to develop new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
Elbridge Colby, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, has warned that Trump’s plans to increase America’s nuclear potential signals Washington’s preparation to carry out "limited nuclear operations" against specific targets.
"I want a clarification: where would these limited operations be carried out?" Zakharova asked. "On what continent would this strategy be fulfilled, if it was fulfilled?"
"Using nuclear weapons in pinpoint attacks is tantamount to playing with the devil," she warned.
Zakharova said such policies were barred in current deals with the US on curbing the nuclear threat, namely the 1971 Agreement to Reduce the Risk of Outbreak of Nuclear War Between the USA and USSR and the 1973 Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.
Nuclear tensions between Moscow and Washington peaked last month, after Trump announced his plans to pull the US out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, claiming that Moscow had been violating the Cold War-era deal, which limited the proliferation of intermediate nuclear missiles.
Moscow hit back by threatening to respond in kind and act to restore the balance of military power should Washington choose to exit the agreement.
Zakharova warned that the new US strategy showed that the country was "seriously considering the concept of a limited nuclear war."
Calling the policy "irresponsible and very dangerous," the diplomat stressed that there were going to be no victors in a nuclear war.
US spreading ‘fake news’
Zakharova also took a jab at Trump and his ongoing fight with what he refers to as “fake news” media, accusing him of ignoring the fake news that his “subordinates” were spreading about Russia.
"While the US president is fighting fake news on CNN, he apparently does not notice in the heat of the struggle that his subordinates in his administration just continue to generate them, these bogus stories are already on an industrial level now," she said.
An example, she said, was a map of NATO issued by the US State Department that showed the alliance’s expansion on Russia’s borders, making it look like that Russia was not concerned about it.
"For whom is this intended? Is this intended for a kindergarten or a nursery? Or, perhaps, modern children are far more inclined to have analytical thinking than those who dream up these fake news stories," she said.
Russia has repeatedly warned NATO against piling up weapons and equipment near its borders under the pretext of defending Europe against what the US and its allies call “Russian aggression.”
Thousands of fatalities due to US-led airstrikes in Syria
Elsewhere in her remarks, Zakharova noted that Syria had unearthed the bodies of over 8,000 Syrians killed in bombing raids by the US-led coalition in mass graves in Syria’s Raqqa.
Damascus informed the United Nations of the US onslaught in letters sent last week, she said.
The Russian official added that the massive number was in stark contrast with "the hysterical reaction expressed by the US and other Western countries with respect to protecting Syrians’ rights," and "the information provided in recent reports by various Western NGOs on the situation in Raqqa."