Perhaps it was obvious that it would always come down to this. Maybe, just maybe, we always knew that Vladimir Putin’s nihilism would catch up to us in such a way.
But, truly, we never thought we’d actually hear them say it.
As it turns out, Russia’s nuclear fetish has now become an unfathomable ultimatum, and the world is rightly on edge.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, warned NATO on Thursday that the defeat of Russia in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear war.
Striking a similar tone at what he described as an anxious time for the country, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said trying to destroy Russia would mean the end of the world.
Medvedev’s statement was unmistakable.
“The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war,” Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, said in a post on Telegram.
“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends,” said Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012.
The Kremlin’s response to the comments wasn’t exactly reassuring, either.
Asked if Medvedev’s remarks signified that Russia was escalating the crisis to a new level, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “No, it absolutely does not mean that.”
He said Medvedev’s remarks were in full accordance with Russia’s nuclear doctrine which allows for a nuclear strike after “aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened”.
The use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would, by its very nature, adversely affect neighboring NATO countries, and could trigger a direct international response against the Kremlin.