Conflict in Ukraine falls short of Moscow’s nuclear threshold, but NATO involvement could change that, says envoy

Russia’s doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons is very clear and the current conflict in Ukraine does not meet any of its criteria, Moscow’s envoy to the UN non-proliferation review conference said on Tuesday. Alexander Trofimov also rejected a series of claims by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as “totally unfounded” speculation, perhaps with the intention of feeding “anti-Russian hysteria”.

“We would also like to strongly reject totally unfounded, unrealistic and unacceptable speculation that Russia is allegedly threatening to use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine.” Trofimov said Tuesday, using the right of reply to address the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in New York.

Russia’s nuclear doctrine is “explicitly clear”, envisaging its use only for attacks involving weapons of mass destruction or conventional aggression that endangers the existence of the state, Trofimov said. “Neither of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine.”

The Russian diplomat condemned “unscrupulous interpretations” of Moscow’s decision to put its nuclear deterrent on alert earlier this year, saying that the reasons for doing so were “confrontational actions and provocative statements by representatives of Western nuclear powers about the possibility of NATO interference in military actions in Ukraine against Russia.”

While he did not name the accusers, Trofimov’s response specifically addressed claims by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who on Monday accused Russia of “reckless and dangerous nuclear saber noise”, a “those who support the self-defense of Ukraine.”

Blinken also accused Russia of violating the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed Ukraine’s independence in return for giving up remaining Soviet nuclear weapons on its territory.

According to Trofimov, “Russia has strictly complied with its obligations” under the memorandum even in the last few months while the kyiv declarations on obtaining nuclear weapons “question viability” of the 1994 document. Ukraine has also violated the memorandum of “many years,” in particular with regard to provisions against “aggressive nationalism and chauvinism”, he added.

Blinken’s interpretation of the Russian leaders’ statements as a threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine is “unscrupulous and does not withstand any criticism”, Trofimov argued. They were directed at NATO, as a way to deter the West from direct aggression against Russia in the context of the Ukraine crisis, he added, noting that the West has already “It has moved into a fierce hybrid confrontation and is poised dangerously on the brink of an open military clash.”

Such movement could trigger one of the two emergency scenarios described in our doctrine. We are obviously in favor of avoiding this, but if Western countries try to test our resolve, Russia will not back down.

The Russian mission to the UN has already objected to Blinken’s accusation that Moscow is using the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant as “human shield,” noting on Monday night that the Ukrainian side has been attacking the plant, the largest in Europe, with artillery and explosive drones in recent weeks.

Trofimov also felt compelled to point out that “Only one country in the world actually used nuclear weapons: it was the United States, which dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, although this has no reason from the point of view of military expediency and was in fact a test of weapons of mass destruction. of Japanese cities and their inhabitants.

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