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Russia warns of nuclear retaliation if Ukraine tries to seize Crimea

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev  (AP)
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev (AP)

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned of nuclear retaliation if Ukraine attempts to seize the Crimean peninsula.

Mr Medvedev, who is currently the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said Russia is prepared to use “absolutely any weapon” in the event of an attack on Crimea.

In an interview with Russian journalists, he added that Russia has no plans to enter a direct conflict with Nato and said the Kremlin is focused on resolving the Ukraine crisis through dialogue.

He said: “As far as some serious offensives involving an attempt to retake Crimea are concerned, it is absolutely clear that this will serve as a basis for the use of all means of protection, including those provided for by the basic doctrine of nuclear deterrence, when the use of any types of weapons against Russia poses a threat to the existence of the state as such.”

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He added that “an attempt to split off part of the state would be tantamount to an encroachment on the existence of the state itself.”

“Therefore, draw your own conclusions: there are obvious grounds for using any weapons. Absolutely any,” he warned.

“I hope our ‘friends’ across the ocean realise this.”

In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea after a disputed and internationally rejected referendum.

President Vladimir Putin insisted Russia annexed Crimea to protect ethnic Russians from “far-right extremists”.

Crimea was originally part of the Russian Empire but in 1954 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.