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Putin floats possibility that Russia may abandon ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine

<i>Contributor/Getty Images</i><br/>Russian President Vladimir Putin was speaking at a news conference in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek.
Getty Images
Contributor/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin was speaking at a news conference in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek.

By Tim Lister, CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for the second time this week, floated the possibility that Russia may formally change its military doctrine of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict, days after he warned of the “increasing” threat of nuclear war.

“They (the US) have it in their strategy, in the documents it is spelled out — a preventive blow. We don’t. We, on the other hand, have formulated a retaliatory strike in our strategy,” Putin said at a news conference in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek.

Even if Russia were to retaliate immediately on seeing the launch of nuclear missiles towards it, Putin said, “this means that the fall of the warheads of enemy missiles on the territory of the Russian Federation is inevitable — they will still fall.”

Putin said that United States’ policy was not to exclude the possibility of “disarming” nuclear strike, while Russia’s doctrine is to use nuclear weapons as the last resort.

“So if we’re talking about this disarming strike, then maybe think about adopting the best practices of our American partners and their ideas for ensuring their security. We’re just thinking about it. No one was shy when they talked about it out loud in previous times and years,” he said.

“If a potential adversary believes it is possible to use the theory of a preventive strike, and we do not, then this still makes us think about those threats that are posed to us,” he added.

Biden administration officials have previously said that Moscow has been warned at the highest levels of the consequences for use of nuclear weapon in the war.

On Wednesday, Putin warned of the “increasing” threat of nuclear war, while stopping short of pledging Russia would not be the first to resort to nuclear weapons in a conflict.

“As for the idea that Russia wouldn’t use such weapons first under any circumstances, then it means we wouldn’t be able to be the second to use them either — because the possibility to do so in case of an attack on our territory would be very limited,” he said Wednesday.

Putin’s comments come as the war enters winter, with Russia continuing to shell eastern and southern parts of Ukraine — and faces attacks on its own soil.

On Monday, Russia unleashed a fresh wave of drone and missile attacks targeting energy infrastructure across Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strikes caused extensive power outages in several regions, including Kyiv and Odesa.

This week, Russia said it was targeted in several drone attacks, which attacked military infrastructure, officials said.

The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the attacks on Ukraine, which has yet to offer public comment on the explosions.

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