Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, emphasised today that nuclear weapons are not necessary for Russia to defeat Ukraine in its conflict.
Speaking today at an arms show in Moscow, Shoigu said that Russia’s nuclear weapons are intended to prevent it from being attacked and that all military goals in Ukraine can be fulfilled without them.
The fact that Shoigu also stated that Russia was not planning to invade Ukraine, despite being one of only a small number of persons believed to have been aware of Putin’s intentions, makes his remarks unconvincing.
His statements also follow months of threats by Russian official media to use nuclear weapons to destroy any country that supports Ukraine, including the US, UK, France, and Germany.
Volodymyr Zelensky demanded more sanctions on Russia in another statement today, accusing them of courting a “catastrophe” at the plant by converting Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a military camp.
After hearing reports of explosions nearby on Monday, the Ukrainian president once again accused Russia of bombing the facility, claiming that they are conducting “false flag” operations to attempt to compel a favourable peace agreement.
While Kiev’s troops are allegedly responsible for the shelling, Moscow has denied ever initiating any assaults on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine.
The United Nations is attempting to mediate a solution to let foreign inspectors inside the power plant on a monitoring mission, but it is clear that all parties must consent.
Zelensky claims he is open to agreeing as long as Russia immediately withdraws its soldiers from Zaporizhzhia.
Shoigu is reportedly in discussions regarding the plant with UN leader Antonio Guterres, but no resolution has been reached.
In a late Monday night speech, Zelensky called for more restrictions on Russia’s nuclear industry, warning that “if through Russia’s actions a disaster happens, the repercussions might impact those who for the time remain mute.”
“The world will have lost if it does not now demonstrate courage and will to protect one nuclear power facility.”
According to Vladimir Rogov, a Russian officer stationed in Enerhodar, over a two-hour period, roughly 25 heavy artillery attacks from American-made M777 howitzers struck close to the nuclear facility and civilian areas.
According to the press office of the Russian-appointed government in Enerhodar, Ukrainian soldiers opened fire and detonated bombs close to the power plant.
This information was provided by the Russian news outlet Interfax.
The district of Nikopol, which is across the river from Enerhodar and is still in Ukrainian control, however, claims that it was Russian troops who bombarded the city in an effort to make it seem as if Ukraine was attacking it.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential staff, said on Twitter that “the Russians believe they can compel the world to agree with their terms by bombarding the Zaporizhzhia NPP (nuclear power plant)”.
A post from the south district of the Ukrainian armed forces on Facebook said that Russian troops had continued to shell towns and cities, including Marhanets, which is directly across from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, and Velika Kostryumka in the south.
In addition, two reinforced positions were destroyed by Ukrainian troops, who also killed 23 Russian soldiers.
In addition to a variety of defense-related topics, Shoigu’s speech included Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications.
According to him, Russia would be forced to reconsider its military strategy toward the two countries if they were admitted to the alliance, which would increase concerns about the possibility of NATO missile weapons being stationed there.
The AUKUS nuclear submarine agreement between Australia, America, and Britain was also discussed by Soigu, who said that it may turn into a complete “military-political alliance.”
He claimed that arming Australia with nuclear weapons would also ignite a second nuclear arms race, with other nations competing to produce the weapons.
Australia will only get nuclear technology capable of powering the submarines, not of arming them with weapons, according to American and British insistence.
One of the most recent agreements between Russia and the United States restricting the development of nuclear weapons, the New START treaty, was another topic covered by Shoigu.
The pact, which was first signed in 2010, has been extended until 2026, and negotiations to establish a successor are now taking place.
Shoigu, however, suggested that the agreement may be allowed to expire by saying that discussions are “not simple” and a “two-way street.”
It follows President Trump’s decision to let the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which has been in effect since the Cold War, to expire.
America claims that Russia is violating the deal by creating weapons, and that this unjustly limits its capacity to fend off new threats from China, which was not a party to the original accord.
Should New START also expire, the three nuclear-armed superpowers would be under little to no restrictions, which would probably trigger a new nuclear arms race.