Russia’s possession of nuclear arms is response to threats, Lavrov says

(Reuters) – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that possession of nuclear weapons protects Russia from security threats and Moscow keeps reminding the West of risks to prevent a conflict of nuclear powers.

“The possession of nuclear arms is today the only possible response to some of significant external threats to security of our country,” Lavrov said in an interview for state-owned magazine The International Affairs, published early on Saturday on the foreign ministry website.

Last month, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would have to use a nuclear weapon if Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian troops was a success.

The West is providing weapons to Ukraine as it tries to retake territory Russia has unilaterally annexed since invading its neighbour in February 2022.

Lavrov said that the United States and NATO allies risk ending up in “a situation of direct armed confrontation of nuclear powers”.

“We believe such a development should be prevented. That’s why we have to remind about the existence of high military and political risks and send sobering signals to our opponents,” Lavrov said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has called a threat of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons “real” while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said this week that the military alliance has not detected any changes to Russia’s nuclear forces.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in New York; editing by Diane Craft and Grant McCool)