'We're not insane!' Russian Duma member ridicules Vladimir Putin's nuclear weapon threat

Vladimir Putin renewed his nuclear threat at a Kremlin ceremony on Friday, warning he would defend the newly annexed Ukrainian territories “with all our strength and all our means” in another escalatory move. Ukrainian intelligence has since revised the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons to “very high”. But a member of the State Duma, Russia’s lower chamber, toned down the threat of nuclear war, dealing a blow to Putin’s sabre-rattling.

When asked about Putin’s potential deployment of nuclear weapons, Evgeny Popov told Sky News: “Using nuclear weapons in the 21st century is an insane decision – we are not insane.

“I am sure that we’re not going to use them first. 

“It’s not our rules. We have a doctrine about using nuclear weapons. 

“And we’re going to use it only in response. If you or any other Western country is going to attack us with nuclear weapons, of course, we will respond.”

Clarifying Putin’s threats, the State Duma member said: “You should carefully listen to Putin’s statement.

“We’re not threatening anybody with our nuclear weapons. 

“We just tell you that we have nuclear weapons.”

Vadym Skibitsky, deputy intelligence chief in Ukraine, said this week that his nation’s military intelligence ranks the threat of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons as “very high”. He also noted such weapons are about 100 times more powerful than the type of missiles that Russia has used against Ukraine so far.

He told The Guardian that Putin’s forces would likely use the weapons to “target places along the frontlines with lots of [army] personnel and equipment, key command centres, and critical infrastructure,” adding, “everything will depend on how the situation develops on the battlefield.”

READ MORE: Putin leads Kremlin in ‘awkward’ chant after Ukraine illegal take-over

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