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Russia’s Conditions for Nuclear Weapons Use Are ‘in Black and White,’ Official Says


Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said the country’s conditions for a potential nuclear strike are written “in black and white,” according to Russian state-owned news outlet RIA Novosti. “We have a military doctrine, everything is written there,” Grushko told the outlet, responding to a question about the likelihood of Russia using nuclear force. “It does not give any other interpretation, except for what is there in black and white.” According to Russia’s official military deployment principles, the Kremlin is permitted to use nuclear weapons when the country’s enemies are using them or other types of weapons of mass destruction on Russian territories or allies, or if there is credible intel on a ballistic missile launch attacking its territory or that of its allies. Russia is also allowed to use nuclear weapons if its critical government or military sites are attacked in a way that would undermine a nuclear response or if the country should face an existential threat from conventional weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the six-page “Basic Principles of the Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Domain of Nuclear Deterrence” on June 2, 2020, Reuters reported. The document states that Russia views nuclear weapons “exclusively as a means of deterrence.” According to the outlined principles, Moscow maintains that the use of nuclear weapons is “an extreme and compelled measure,” which Russia “takes all necessary efforts” to avoid. Newsweek reports that Putin used phrasing at the beginning of the invasion in February that is similar to the conditions laid out in Russia’s military doctrine, justifying the use of nuclear weapons. When he addressed the nation on Feb. 24, the day the invasion of Ukraine began, Putin spoke of the “fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year” by bringing NATO ever closer to Russian borders. Calling the expansion of NATO “a matter of life and death” for Russia, Putin reportedly said it was “not only a real threat to our interests, but to the very existence of our state and to its sovereignty.”

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