By David Lungren
(Reuters) – Russia’s nuclear arsenal and the rules set by Moscow for its use are the only factors preventing the West from launching a war against Russia, a top ally of President Vladimir Putin said in an article published on Sunday.
Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has also said Moscow will continue fighting in Ukraine until the “nasty, almost fascist regime” in Kyiv is removed and the country is fully demilitarized.
In an interview aired separately on Sunday, Putin said Russia was open to talks with all parties involved in the war, but said Kyiv and its Western backers had refused to engage in talks.
Medvedev, a self-proclaimed liberal modernizer who once served as president from 2008 to 2012, has been one of the war’s harshest advocates. He regularly denounces the West, whom he accuses of wanting to undermine Russia to benefit Ukraine.
“Is the West ready to unleash an all-out war against us, including nuclear war, at the hands of Kyiv?” He wrote a 4,500-word article for the Rossiya Gazeta newspaper.
“The only thing stopping our enemies today is the perception that Russia is driven by the fundamentals of state policy … nuclear deterrence. If a real threat emerges, it will act on them.”
Putin and other senior officials have repeatedly said that Russia’s policy on nuclear weapons is to use them if regional integrity is threatened.
According to experts, Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with around 6,000 warheads.
Earlier this month, Putin said the risk of a nuclear war was growing, but said Russia was not “crazy” and saw its own nuclear arsenal as a perfectly defensive deterrent.
“The Western world is balancing between the desire to humiliate, humiliate, dismember and destroy Russia, on the one hand, and to avoid a nuclear apocalypse on the other,” Medvedev said.
“The world will continue to teeter on the brink of World War III and nuclear catastrophe. We will do everything we can to prevent that,” he said, unless Russia gets the security guarantees it demands.
Medvedev said Russia could forget about normal relations with the West for years, perhaps decades, and focus on relations with the rest of the world.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler)