Russia has dismissed media speculations about a possible deployment of nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine, saying Moscow has “no need” to use its nuclear arsenal to achieve its goals in the conflict.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a speech at an international security conference on Tuesday that Russian forces did not need “to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve the set goals.”
“The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack,” he said.
“The media are spreading speculation about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the course of the special military operation, or about the readiness to use chemical weapons. All these informational attacks are absolute lies,” he said, referring to the conflict in Ukraine.
The defense minister also said that Ukrainian military operations were being planned by the United States and Britain, and that NATO had increased its troop deployment in Eastern and Central Europe “several times over.”
A Russian diplomat told the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference earlier this month that NATO was waging a hybrid confrontation that “dangerously balances on the edge of an open military clash” with Russia.
Russia’s Embassy in Washington also said earlier on Tuesday that the US had been increasing the threat of “a direct military clash of nuclear powers” through “hybrid confrontation” in Ukraine.
Russia launched the military offensive against Ukraine on February 24. President Vladimir Putin said at the time that one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Since the war began, the United States has been providing Kiev with military aid, including at least 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) systems.
Situation around New START Treaty ‘difficult’
Referring to the New START Treaty, which caps the number of the strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy, the Russian defense minister said talks to extend the treaty were “a two-way street,” and the situation around it was “difficult.”
“A difficult situation is also developing with regard to the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The agreement remains in force until 2026,” he said. “On the Russian side, obligations are being fulfilled, the declared levels of carriers and warheads are maintained within the established limits.”
The New START Treaty came into force in 2011.
US President Joe Biden said last week that his administration was ready to “expeditiously” negotiate a framework to replace the treaty, if Moscow demonstrated its willingness to resume work on nuclear arms control.
Washington, however, has withdrawn from separate talks with Moscow on strategic stability over the war in Ukraine. Moscow has warned that time is running out to negotiate a replacement for New START.