Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: New Cold War Over, We Are Now In A ‘Hot Conflict With The United States’

A top Russian government defense minister is claiming the United States is “playing with fire” and engaged in a hot “hybrid war” with Russia…



he comments come just hours after Russia announced it had deployed nuclear-capable missiles to the borders of NATO in Belarus, and refitted Belarussian jets with the equipment to carry and drop nuclear bombs. Moscow made a tacit accusation that the United States was to blame for this latest escalation, saying Russia was doing no more than America already did, in stationing nuclear weapons in the territory of European allies.

The new Cold War is already over, a Kremlin spokesman has said, apparently looking past Russia’s own role in invading Ukraine and accusing the United States of “playing with fire” by pushing the world towards nuclear war that he insists Russians wish to avoid.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov spoke on television Tuesday evening making the ‘hot war’ comments, insisting that Russia has the “military resources and the political will” to protect itself. Moving onto nuclear weapons, he told his domestic audience:

“We are not mincing words here, either. Our adversaries simply have to be realistic about what is going on around them, and to refrain from any escalation or provocations against us. Because otherwise something may happen that for now can be discussed only hypothetically. I think we have already passed this period of Cold War. Now we are in the phase of a hot conflict with the United States. We are witnessing the direct involvement of that country in a hybrid war with Russia on various fronts.”

Shorter range but operationally flexible, “Iskander-M tactical missile systems” have been deployed to Belarus, and Belarussian crews have travelled to Russia to receive training in their operation, Moscow has said. The missile can be equipped with several different warheads using conventional explosives for different purposes, or it can carry a small nuclear warhead.

A statement published by a Russian government wires service on these comments by defense minister Sergey Shoigu on the deployment of nuclear-capable weapon systems to Belarus, which borders four European Union members, appeared to have been timed to coincide with Tuesday’s ceremony to welcome Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Russia has long campaigned against Finland joining NATO, and protested NATO expansion in general, accusing the bloc of encroaching upon their territory.

Moscow said it will keep a “close eye” on their new 800-mile border with NATO, and threatened “counter measures” including “all necessary military-technical precaution measures.”

NATO leaders have recently called Russia’s desire to move nuclear weapons to Belarus dangerous, irresponsible, and desperate, but that it was not considered serious enough to modify NATO’s own nuclear disposition. On Monday, NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance and Europe was stronger with Finland as a member.

Indeed, Moscow has defended these deployments by comparing them to the United States staging its own nuclear weapons in NATO members in Europe and also that it does not violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. That claim will be one for international lawyers of the future, but nevertheless, the United States does base nuclear weapons in Europe with the permission of host nations, and these can even be launched by those partners from their aircraft in wartime.

Russia’s move may appear from the outside to closely model that of the United States, possibly to avoid escalation, although accusations have already been made.

While blame is generally laid at Russia’s door for invading Ukraine, the minister insisted it was in fact the U.S. that was pushing the world towards nuclear war and that Russia was the peaceful party trying to avoid such an exchange. Expressing this, Ryabkov postulated: “…there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it must not be unleashed.”

“But the way our American opponents are recklessly, provocatively, and in many respects absolutely carelessly moving up the escalation ladder, the way they are blinded by their absolutely absurd certainty about their ability to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia makes one doubt their mental faculties and their common sense.”

The U.S. is “playing with fire” and was risking making “fatal mistakes,” Ryabkov said, saying the Russian Federation “will be ready to take all measures and to use all means at our disposal” if there were attempts to encroach on their sovereignty.

Russia has increased its rhetoric over their rights as a sovereign nation in recent months as NATO has become more directly involved in supporting Ukraine, but has skirted around its own role in invading another sovereign country, referring to the war euphemistically as a necessary “special military operation.”

The United States, for its part has reflected on the effectiveness of the Russian military after the invasion appeared to fail in its original dash to capture territory. Speaking this week, a Pentagon spokesman said of that: “I think we’ve certainly seen failures that the Russian military has not been able to execute on the battlefield and failures in their command-and-control.”


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