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'Punishing' Moscow could trigger nuclear war, warns former Russian president

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has strongly warned the Western states against attempts at “punishing” the country over its ongoing military operation in neighboring Ukraine.

"The idea to punish a country that has the largest nuclear arsenal is absurd in and of itself," Medvedev said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

The remarks were made in reference to a bid by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to punish Moscow over what the tribunal alleges to be potential crimes in the former Soviet republic.

The move to penalize Russia "potentially creates a threat to the existence of mankind," Medvedev warned, pointing to the likelihood of a nuclear conflict.

Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

‘US history drenched in blood’

Presently serving as the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, Medvedev blasted the United States for seeking to put Moscow in front of international tribunals, while evading punishment for its own wars which, according to him, have caused 20 million deaths worldwide.

"The whole of American history, starting from the suppression of the Indians, is bloody wars of annihilation," said the 56-year-old ally of Putin.

‘Any cap on Russia’s oil could cause prices to skyrocket’

Earlier in the day, Medvedev denounced reported comments by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has proposed capping the price of Russian oil at around half its current level.

The global oil prices might exceed $300-$400 per barrel if the price cap proposals were to be implemented, he said.

Medvedev also cautioned that Russia might start denying Japan its energy exports and stop cooperating with Tokyo on a joint oil and gas project, which is under way on the Sakhalin Island, located off Russia’s eastern coastline.

Japan "would have neither oil nor gas from Russia, as well as no participation in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project" as a result of such a cap, pressuring the shares of Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp, Medvedev said, pointing to the Japanese corporations that are involved in the project.

Also on Wednesday, the Kremlin likewise reprimanded Japan over what it called a "very unfriendly position" towards Russia, saying this hampered the development of economic relations, including in the energy sphere.

Japan has joined its Western allies in slapping sweeping economic sanctions on Russia over the operation in Ukraine.

"Japan is taking a very unfriendly position towards Russia. In any case, such an unfriendly stance does not help to facilitate relations on trade and the economy, including the energy dialogue," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We discussed Mr Kishida's proposal yesterday and have said that this is only an initiative announced, there were no consolidated decisions taken," Peskov said. "It is doubtful whether such decisions could be taken, frankly speaking."

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