Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned the United States that any attempts by Western countries to punish a nuclear power such as Russia for the war in Ukraine risked endangering humanity.
“The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd,” Medvedev, who is now the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on Telegram on Wednesday.
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“And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity,” he added.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.
US President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and has led the West in arming Ukraine and imposing crippling sanctions on Russia.
Medvedev said any attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine would be futile. He also rejected the US-backed calls for such a tribunal as an attempt by Washington to “judge others while staying immune from any trial,” and cast it as an empire which had spilled blood across the world.
“The entire US history since the times of subjugation of the native Indian population represents a series of bloody wars,” Medvedev said, citing the US nuclear bombing of Japan during World War II and the war in Vietnam.
“Was anyone held responsible for those crimes? What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the US there?”
The US and “its useless stooges should remember the words of the Bible: Do not judge and you will not be judged … so that the great day of His wrath doesn’t come to their home one day,” Medvedev added, referring to the Apocalypse.
The warning follows a series of tough statements from Putin and his officials that pointed at the Russian nuclear arsenals to warn the West against interfering with Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012 when Putin shifted into the prime minister’s post due to term limits, was widely seen by the West as more liberal compared to his mentor.
In recent months, however, he has made remarks that have sounded much tougher than those issued by the most hawkish Kremlin officials.
Putin launched his invasion on February 24, calling it a “special military operation”, to demilitarise Ukraine, root out what he said were dangerous nationalists and protect Russian speakers in that country.
Ukraine and its allies say Russia launched an imperial-style land grab, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two.
After failing to seize the capital Kyiv early, Russia is now waging a war of attrition for Ukraine’s Donbas region, parts of which are controlled by Russian separatist proxies.
On Sunday, Putin claimed his biggest victory when Ukrainian forces withdrew from Luhansk province. Russian forces then launched an offensive to take neighbouring Donetsk province. Donetsk and Luhansk comprise the Donbas.
Russia says it wants to wrest control of the eastern and heavily industrial region on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people’s republics.