The Kremlin blasted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s “preemptive strikes” on Russia remarks from the day prior, accusing him of trying to start a world war. Zelensky had in a virtual address to Australia’s Lowy Institute urged US-led allies to conducted preventative strikes on Russia so that “knows what to expect” if it used nuclear weapons.
“What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” Zelensky said in the provocative Thursday remarks. “I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: preemptive strikes so that they [Russia] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around.”
“Don’t wait for Russia’s nuclear strikes, and then say, ‘Oh, since you did this, take that from us!’ Reconsider the way you apply pressure. This is what NATO should do – reconsider the order in which it applies pressure [on Russia],” the Ukrainian leader added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday responded by saying the statements mark “are nothing but a call to start a world war,” which would result in “unforeseeable disastrous consequences.”
And separately Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova charged Zelensky with seeking nuclear escalation:
Additionally, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday pointed out that Zelensky’s remarks confirmed and justified the need for Russia to pacify Ukraine. Referencing the request for a NATO preemptive attack on Russia, Lavrov explained, “By doing so, (he) essentially presented the world with further evidence of the threats posed by the Kyiv regime,” adding that “This is why a special military operation was launched to neutralize them.”
President Biden last month in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview warned Putin to not “change the face of war” by employing either tactical nuclear or chemical weapons against Ukraine. But more recently and importantly, on the same day as Zelensky’s call for a preemptive strike, Biden said that the threat of nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest level since the Cuban missile crisis, and that the US is trying to find an “off-ramp” for Russia before they begin the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Following all of this, Zelensky’s office attempted an awkward walk-back, issued a statement seeking to clarify that he…
“did not call on NATO countries to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons against the Russian Federation — he spoke about the period before the start of a full-scale invasion.”
“Colleagues, you have gone a little far with your nuclear hysteria and now you hear nuclear strikes even where there are none,” Zelensky’s press secretary Serhiy Nikiforov said. “The President spoke about the period until February 24. Then it was necessary to take preventive measures to prevent Russia from starting a war. Let me remind you that the only measures discussed at that time were preventive sanctions.”
International headlines warning about nuclear Armageddon have been on the rise over the last month, especially as Ukrainian forces began making rapid gains against Russian front lines in the east and south.