What Russia Said About Using Nuclear Weapons as Putin Warns No One Wins

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that a nuclear war is not an option, but his remarks are a stark contrast to previous statements from Russia.

Concerns about Russia using nuclear weapons have grown in recent months amid the Russia-Ukraine war, as experts have said Putin could order their use to achieve a quicker victory as his military has struggled to achieve his main objectives. But Putin appeared to try to quell these fears in a letter to a conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, according to a report from Reuters.

"We proceed from the fact that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community," Putin wrote.

However, Putin's letter uses a strikingly different tone than he and other Russian authorities have previously taken regarding the possible use of nuclear weapons.

In previous months, Putin's allies and Kremlin-aligned Russian state television have used fears of a nuclear attack to taunt the West—as well as to try to threaten world leaders who support Ukraine.

When Putin first launched the war on February 24, he warned that any attempt by other countries to interfere with his invasion would "lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history," a remark taken by many to be a veiled nuclear threat.

Kremlin Previously Said Nuclear Threat Shouldn't Be 'Underestimated'

While Russian authorities have not made direct threats of nuclear war in recent months, they have made veiled warnings about the possibility. For instance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in April that while Russia wants to avoid nuclear war, he viewed the risks of such as "considerable."

"The danger is serious, real," he added. "And we must not underestimate it."

What Russia has said about nuclear weapons
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said "there can be no winners" in nuclear war after months of Russian authorities and state television alluding to the possibility of using nuclear weapons. Above, Putin is seen in a meeting in Moscow on August 1. PAVEL BYRKIN/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of Russia's Duma, said in June that if European countries provided Ukraine with nuclear weapons, they would "disappear" after Polish authorities said they have the right to provide Ukraine with the weapons, though they have not done so.

"[Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw] Sikorski provokes a nuclear conflict in the center of Europe. He does not think about the future of either Ukraine or Poland. If his proposals are implemented, these countries will disappear, as well as Europe. He needs to be examined by a psychiatrist, pass the mandate and stay at home under supervision," Volodin said.

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov has also said that Russia would use nuclear weapons if it felt threatened.

"Well, we have a concept of domestic security, and it's public," Peskov said on CNN in March. "You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used. So if it is an existential threat, a threat for our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept."

Russian State TV Taunts West With Nuclear Threat

Russian state television, backed by the Kremlin, has become a platform that frequently discusses the prospects of nuclear war, with its pro-Putin hosts often speaking about a real possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons.

In June, Russian state television personality Vladimir Solovyov warned there would be a "massive nuclear strike" that only "mutants" would survive if the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) continued supporting Ukraine.

"If everything keeps progressing the way it is, only a couple of mutants in Lake Baikal will survive. The rest will be destroyed in a massive nuclear strike," he said, referring to one of the world's deepest lakes, located in Siberia.

In April, a panel of Russian analysts on state-owned Russia-1 laughed at the idea of a nuclear attack against the United States. One panelist said that "objects like the city of New York" would be "completely gone with one rocket." Panelists have also proposed using nuclear weapons against Finland and Sweden amid their bid to join NATO.

At times, Russian state TV has even made direct threats about using nuclear weapons.

"You will get a nuclear strike if you gather some kind of a peacekeeping contingent by NATO or decide to relocate it somewhere, and so on and so on. This is going to be a nuclear war!" a Russian television host said in a video that surfaced on Twitter in May.