A key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that Putin's recent threat to use nuclear weapons is "not a bluff."
Dmitry Medvedev, who took over as Russian president when Putin briefly ceded power in 2008, also challenged Western countries' claims to stand with Ukraine in the event that Russia, which has been struggling in its seven-month war there, employs nuclear weapons.
"I believe that NATO will not directly intervene in the conflict even in this situation," Medvedev wrote on Telegram. "After all, the security of Washington, London, Brussels is much more important for the North Atlantic Alliance than the fate of a dying Ukraine that no one needs."
"The supply of modern weapons is just a business for Western countries," he added. "Overseas and European demagogues are not going to perish in a nuclear apocalypse. Therefore, they will swallow the use of any weapon in the current conflict."
Putin threatened to deploy Moscow's nuclear weapons in an address to the country last week, in which he also announced a partial military call-up, Russia's first such mobilization since World War II.
"This is not a bluff," Putin said Wednesday. "And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that he believes Putin's threats "could be a reality." However, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan also warned on Sunday that the U.S. will "respond decisively" if Putin moves to use nuclear weapons.
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