Moscow furious at Zelensky's remarks about NATO 'preemptive strikes'
Moscow lambasted statements on Thursday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who referred to NATO's “preemptive strikes” against Russia, Kyiv then clarifying that Mr. Zelensky was talking about preventive sanctions and not nuclear strikes.
Mr. Zelensky spoke Thursday during a videoconference with Australian think tank Lowy Institute.
“What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons. But above all, I again appeal to the international community, as before February 24: preventive strikes, so that they know what will happen to them if they use them,” said the Ukrainian leader.
“And not the other way around, waiting for nuclear strikes from Russia to be able to say: 'Oh! well, do you do that? So, now take that from us!” Review the way it exerts pressure, that's what NATO must do, review the way it uses it,” continued Mr. Zelensky.
After these statements, the spokesman of Mr. Zelensky, Sergei Nykyforov, explained that these remarks related to preventive sanctions which could have been taken against Moscow before the offensive of February 24, and not to preventive military strikes.
“The president talked about the period before February 24. It would then have been necessary to take preventive measures so as not to allow Russia to start the war. I remind you that the only measures in question at the time were sanctions,” he posted on Facebook, saying that Kyiv would “never” call for the use of nuclear weapons.
Burst of criticism
Several senior Russian officials sharply criticized Mr. Zelensky's remarks on Thursday evening.
“Such statements are nothing other than a call to start a new world war with monstrous and unpredictable consequences,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Ria Novosti agency.
He said called on the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union to react to these remarks, judging that these countries were de facto directing the actions of Kyiv.
For her part, the spokesperson of the Russian diplomat, Maria Zakharova, accused the West of “stirring up a nuclear war”.
“Everyone on Earth must realize that this unhinged, weapon-packed character, Zelensky, this puppet, is ' is transformed into a monster that can destroy the planet,” she wrote on Telegram.