Putin says Russia could use nuclear weapons, ‘if threatened’

Published June 6, 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with heads of International news agencies in Saint Petersburg on June 5. — AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with heads of International news agencies in Saint Petersburg on June 5. — AFP

ST PETERSBURG: President Vladimir Putin cautioned the West on Wednesday that Russia could use all available means, including nuclear weapons, to defend itself if its sovereignty or territorial integrity were threatened.

Putin said that the West had repeatedly accused Russia of nuclear sabre-rattling, but said this was wrong, and pointed out that it was the United States which had used nuclear weapons against Japan in World War Two.

Putin was speaking to senior editors of foreign news agencies on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. He said that Russia’s nuclear doctrine permits nuclear weapons to be used in response to a number of threats.

“For some reason, the West believes that Russia will never use it,” Putin said. “We have a nuclear doctrine, look what it says. If someone’s actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible for us to use all means at our disposal. This should not be taken lightly, superficially.”

Describes Taliban govt as a ‘reality’ and favours relations with it

Ties with Taliban

In reply to a question about the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the Russian president said Moscow should “build up” relations with it.

“We have always believed that we need to deal with reality. The Taliban are in power in Afghanistan… We have to build up relations with the Taliban government.” Putin’s comments came hours after a Taliban delegation arrived in St Petersburg to attend the economic forum.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said last week that Moscow planned to take the Taliban off its list of banned terrorist organizations, nearly three years after the group seized power from a US-backed government.

“They are the real power” in Afghanistan, Lavrov said at the time, speaking during a visit by Putin to Uzbekistan. The Taliban were designated a terrorist organisation by Moscow in 2003.

The Russian leader’s statement could further boost diplomacy between Moscow and Kabul, but would fall short of an official recognition of the Taliban government. Russia has for years fostered ties with the Taliban.

The head of US forces in Afghanistan alleged in 2018 that Moscow was providing weapons to the group accusations Moscow denied.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2024

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