Russia: Annexed Ukrainian regions under nuclear protection
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that four recently annexed Ukrainian regions fall under Russia’s nuclear protection, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
“All those territories are an inseparable part of Russia, and therefore all of them are under [our] protection,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, when asked whether the regions fall under the country’s nuclear umbrella. “Their security is guaranteed precisely at the same level as the rest of the country.”
The suggestion escalates the threat of nuclear conflict in the war, as the eastern and southern Ukrainian regions lie along the front lines of the war.
Just one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the regions, Ukrainian forces retook the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also vowed to protect Ukrainians in the annexed territories, placing the two countries in a precarious position.
As the war in Ukraine has faltered, Putin has continued to ratchet up his nuclear rhetoric, warning that it is “not a bluff.” Zelensky, who dismissed Russia’s earlier nuclear threats, has said he believes Putin’s latest threats “could be a reality.”
The Kremlin’s comments on Tuesday were followed by a declaration of martial law on Wednesday in the annexed regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.