A conventional clash may very likely escalate into an outright atomic conflict, Sergey Lavrov has cautioned
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that any conflict between nuclear states, even if it starts with conventional weapons, is likely to escalate into an all-out nuclear war, and thus should be avoided at all costs.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the diplomat was asked about Moscow and Washington's joint efforts to reduce their strategic capabilities. Lavrov responded by pointing out that in September 2021 the US essentially froze the bilateral talks on reaching an agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms, long before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
"It's not hard to figure out what their reasoning was," Lavrov noted. He admitted, however, that Washington and Moscow's responsibilities as the two largest nuclear powers in the world do not change, and recalled a joint statement made by Russian and American leaders that a nuclear war cannot be won by anyone and therefore must not be allowed to start.
The minister added that Russia was willing to take that statement further and stressed that any conflict between nuclear states is unacceptable, as even a conventional war has a "huge" risk of escalating into a nuclear altercation.
"This is also why we are so anxiously watching the rhetoric the West spews out accusing us of preparing some alleged provocations using weapons of mass destruction," Lavrov said, noting that the West, including the USA, France and the UK, are doing everything to increase their almost direct participation in the conflict in Ukraine, where he says they are essentially waging war against Russia through the hands of the Ukrainians.
"This is a dangerous trend," Lavrov warned.
The threat of a nuclear war has been a hot topic recently since Putin vowed in late September to defend Russia's territory and people using "all the forces and resources we have." His remarks were then widely interpreted by Western pundits and officials as a veiled nuclear warning. Putin clarified his statement later by saying that Moscow has not even mentioned tactical nuclear weapons, let alone threatened to use atomic weapons.
During Thursday's press conference, Lavrov reiterated Moscow's nuclear doctrine, under which the use of WMDs is permitted only as a retaliatory response to enemy nuclear strikes or to conventional strikes that put the Russian state at risk.