Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi on completion of his visits to North Korea and Vietnam, President Vladimir Putin accused Kyiv's Western partners of once again raising tensions by authorizing the use of their weapons against targets in Russia.

He said “They seem to think that at some point we will get scared. But at the same time, they also say they want to achieve a strategic defeat of Russia on the battlefield.”

Putin also accused Western countries of 'lowering the threshold' for the use of nuclear devices against Russia, which was possibly in reference to a statement by the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who said during a visit to Canada on Wednesday, June 19:

“NATO has been and will continue to be a nuclear Alliance… we have a special arrangement with the United States where they have nuclear weapons, based in Europe. And then we have European Allies providing planes, bases, infrastructure. So together, this is what we call the nuclear sharing arrangements or NATO's nuclear deterrent.”


This seemed to double down on earlier comments Stoltenberg made to the Daily Telegraph in a June 16 interview that NATO was considering deploying more nuclear weapons to Europe in the face of threats from Russia, China and North Korea.

Putin has vowed to go “to the end” on the battlefield in Ukraine and said he has concluded that Moscow must now consider updating its own nuclear doctrine because of NATO’s willingness to deploy tactical nuclear weapons, and because defeat in Ukraine would mean “the end of Russia's statehood.”

He said “It means the end of the 1,000-year history of the Russian state. I think this is clear to everyone... Isn't it better to go all the way, until the end?”

His comments came just hours before one of Ukraine’s largest-ever drone attacks, involving almost 120 UAVs was launched against Russian oil refineries and an airbase in Crimea and western Russia.


Russia updated its nuclear weapons doctrine, formally known as “Basic Principles of State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence,” in 2020 – two years before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This says its forces could use nuclear weapons if an enemy “threatened the existence of the Russian state,” in response to an enemy’s use of weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies – or if Moscow received credible information that a nuclear strike was being planned or about to take place.

Putin said any new doctrine would not include plans for preventive nuclear strikes because: “We don’t need a preventive strike, because with a retaliatory strike the enemy is guaranteed to be destroyed.”

When asked whether Ukraine's use of Western long-range weapons against Russian territory could be considered an act of aggression and a direct threat to the state, Putin replied:

“This requires additional research, but it's close.

The Independent Russian news site Insider cites Shelby Magid, deputy director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, who said that Putin's threats no longer surprise anyone, since he has been abusing them for two years now, and the fear that he will use nuclear weapons is beginning to fade. According to her, they can rather be regarded as a sign of weakness and despair.


This view was shared by Olga Oliker, an analyst with the International Crisis Group who said the could be no justification for Putin equating losing the war in Ukraine as “strategic defeat” that would “allow the use of nuclear weapons within the framework of the nuclear doctrines of Russia or most other countries. But it is not entirely clear why and how defeat would lead to annihilation, and exactly how nuclear weapons would prevent this.” 


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