Russian leaders are threatening to unleash a nuclear attack if the United States or its NATO allies enter the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, according to recent comments that appear to come in response to an increased military buildup by Western forces in the region.
Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov, a Russian lawmaker, discussed Moscow's willingness to use nuclear weapons in response to U.S. action in Ukraine, telling an international meeting of security officials on Sunday that Russian military officials have "discussed Moscow's willingness to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with military leaders in NATO," according to reports.
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"On the issue of NATO expansion on our borders, at some point I heard from the Russian military—and I think they are right—If U.S. forces, NATO forces, are, were, in the Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, Russia is undefendable militarily in case of conflict without using nuclear weapons in the early stage of the conflict," Nikonov was quoted as saying by Defense One during the conference.
Nikonov later confirmed to the publication that Russian military officials are ready to deploy nuclear weapons if a conflict in the contested region of Crimea arises.
"Russian military leaders have discussed Moscow's willingness to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with military leaders in NATO, as part of broader and increasingly contentious conversations about the alliance's expansion," Defense One reported.