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Putin Again Clarifies Russia’s Position Regarding Nuclear Weapons

June 10—In reply June 7 to a question posed by SPIEF plenary moderator Sergei Karaganov—a political analyst, historian and Academic Supervisor of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics—Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the accusation that he was “saber-rattling” with his comments about nuclear weapons. Putin replied that the only one he remembered “rattling sabers” was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had commented on her election that she was prepared to “press the nuclear button.” “We never said that,” Putin said. “This is where it all started. We simply responded that we needed to take this more seriously; we immediately started saying that we were rattling nuclear weapons. We don’t rattle.”

He then went on. "What is use, or non-use, and in what case do you use them. We have a nuclear doctrine, and everything is written there. Yesterday I just spoke with the heads of news agencies and said this. We have everything written there: use is possible in exceptional cases—in the event of a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, in exceptional cases.

“I don’t think that such a case has arisen—there is no such need. But this doctrine is a living instrument, and we carefully monitor what is happening in the world around us and do not rule out making some changes to this doctrine.”

With regard to nuclear tests and a nuclear test ban, Putin said, “We once not only signed it, but also ratified it; the Americans signed it, but did not ratify it, so in today’s conditions we have withdrawn our ratification. But if necessary, we will conduct tests. So far, there is no such need either, since our information capabilities, computer ones, allow us to produce everything in its current form.”

Putin also reiterated what he had told the meeting with journalists yesterday—that if the West continued to supply Ukraine with weapons, Russia would be prepared to supply weapons to countries that were opposed to the United States. “Now regarding the fact that we supply weapons. We are not delivering yet. But we reserve the right to do this for those states or even some legal structures that are experiencing a certain pressure on themselves, including of a military nature, from those countries that supply weapons to Ukraine and call for them to be used against us, against our Russian territory. If they supply these weapons to the combat zone and call for the use of these weapons on our territory, why don’t we then have the right to do the same, to respond in a mirror way?” 

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