Russia would only use nuclear weapons when there is a threat to the country's existence — and not as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told PBS Newshour in an interview Monday.
“Any outcome of the operation (in Ukraine), of course, is not a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon,” Peskov said. “We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state, in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat for the existence of our country.”
When asked about US President Joe Biden’s comments calling Vladimir Putin a “butcher” and declaring the Russian President should no longer remain in power, Peskov said “it is quite alarming.”
“It is personal insult,” Peskov said. “Of course, it is completely unacceptable. It is not for the United States' President to decide who is going to be and who is the president of the Russian Federation.”
Some context: At an address in Poland on Saturday, Biden made an improvised comment — "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power" — that caught American and international officials off-guard, sending the White House into clean-up mode over the weekend.
Civilian targets denial: In the PBS interview, Peskov denied that Russian forces had deliberately targeted civilians in Ukraine — despite Ukrainian forces, journalists, and refugees fleeing the country describing brutal bombardments striking civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, hospitals and more.
“They are not shelling houses. They are not shelling apartments. They are not shelling civil objects,” Peskov said. “They are only shelling and they're aiming of military infrastructure.”
The US officially declared last week that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine. The International Criminal Court in The Hague has also launched an investigation into the invasion.