Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president who, along with President Barack Obama, renewed the START agreement for another five years in 2019, defended Russia’s right to use nuclear weapons if necessary.
“If the United States wants to defeat Russia, then we have the right to defend ourselves with any weapon, including nuclear weapons,” he said on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.
However, Major General Yevgeny Ilyin, a senior Russian defense official, told the lower house of the Russian parliament that the military would continue to adhere to the terms of START, which limits the number of warheads each side can have.
The war in Ukraine has remained largely stalemate over the winter, but a new Russian offensive is fueling gains in the eastern Donbas region.
Both sides have struggled to secure arms supplies to key areas as the conflict languishes. Ukraine has been almost completely dependent on Western supplies, while Russia is trying to increase its production capacity.
“[A] a modern and efficient army and navy are a guarantee of the country’s security and sovereignty, and a guarantee of its stable development and its future,” Putin said in the statements issued by the Kremlin. “That is why, as before, we will give priority attention to strengthening our defense capacity.”
“Our industry is rapidly increasing production of the full range of conventional weapons and preparing for mass production of advanced models of equipment for the army and navy, as well as aerospace forces,” Putin added.