Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the West’s arming of Ukraine risks turning cities into radioactive rubble. Medvedev has been viewed as a warning to NATO members which have sent weapons to Kyiv and are considering sending more.
The former leader of Russia said: “Of course, the pumping in of weapons can continue… and prevent any possibility of reviving negotiations.
“Our enemies are doing just that, not wanting to understand that their goals will certainly lead to a total fiasco. Loss for everyone, a collapse. Apocalypse. Where you forget for centuries about your former life until the rubble ceases to emit radiation.”
Medvedev’s comments come after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that his country would suspend its participation in the New START treaty which obliged Russia and the US to commit to regular dialogue on the status of their nuclear arsenals.
Russia is not withdrawing from the treaty, which is in force until 2026, but Putin said Moscow cannot accept US inspections of its nuclear sites while Washington and its NATO allies seek Russia’s defeat in Ukraine.
Medvedev’s comments were criticised for being “inflammatory” by the French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna at the UN in Geneva.
She said: “Mr Medvedev, alas, has long accustomed us to irresponsible, outrageous statements that in no way reflect reality.”
Putin’s former Chief of Staff threatened retaliatory nuclear strikes earlier this month, saying the whole of Ukraine “will burn” if Kyiv uses long-range missiles.
He has also raised the prospect of an all-out nuclear war if Ukraine defeats Russia.
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Medvedev wrote on Telegram: “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war.
“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends.
“And this should be obvious to anyone. Even a Western politician with any trace of intelligence.”
Medvedev, who is now Deputy Head of the National Security Council, said last week that “iff the US wants Russia’s defeat, we have the right to defend ourselves with any weapons, including nuclear”.
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The rhetoric has been ramped up of late partly in response to NATO discussions about sending more weapons to Ukraine.
Advanced battle tanks are being sent to the war-torn country with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky also urging the West to provide fighter aircraft.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday her first visit to Ukraine underscored Washington’s commitment to continuing its economic support for the country.
Ms Yellen said after talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that the US has provided nearly $50billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance. She went on to announce another multibillion dollar package to boost the country’s economy.
Mr Shmyhal offered thanks to the US for its support and hailed Ms Yellen as a “friend of Ukraine”. He said Ukraine’s budget deficit now stands at $38bn and that the US will provide another $10bn in assistance by September.
The pair also discussed sanctions aimed at weakening Russia’s economy as well as the possibility of using Russian frozen assets to help in Ukraine’s economic recovery.
Ms Yellen’s visit came as Putin bestowed a state decoration on movie star Steven Seagal, who also holds Russian citizenship.
The awarding of the Order of Friendship was announced on the Russian government’s internet portal. The order recognises people who Russia considers to have contributed to bettering international relations.
Seagal was a vocal supporter of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and last year visited the Russian-held Ukrainian town of Olenivka where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were reportedly killed in an attack for which Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other.
The actor was named in 2018 as a Russian Foreign Ministry humanitarian envoy to the United States and Japan.
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