President Vladimir Putin once said he would feel legitimate in using nuclear weapons if Russia was attacked, saying: “Why do we need such a world if there is no Russia there?”
Putin made the remarks in a feature-length interview with the pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov, which was aired on the state-run Russia-1 network in March 2018.
When asked in what scenario Russia would use nuclear weapons, Putin appeared to feign offense at the question, and said: “If someone decides to destroy Russia, then we have a legal right to respond. Yes, for humanity it will be a global catastrophe, for the world it will be a global catastrophe.”
Putin added: “But still, as a citizen of Russia and the head of the Russian state, then I want to ask myself the question: ‘Why do we need such a world if there is no Russia there?'”
In the interview, Putin also said that Russia would only launch a nuclear weapon if it detected the launch of other missiles headed for Russia.
“The decision to use nuclear weapons can only be made if our missile attack warning system not only recorded the launch of missiles, but also gave an accurate forecast and flight trajectories,” he said.
It is unclear if Putin meant that Russia would respond only in the case of nuclear warheads or non-nuclear missiles in general. There is no public indication that Western powers are planning any missile attack on Russia.
The 2018 Putin quote was revived by the Financial Times in an article published on Tuesday.