Kremlin Spokesperson Refuses to Rule Out Nuclear Weapons

Putin’s war on Ukraine is entering week four. What is the Russian president’s thinking, and what is his endgame? If anyone would know, it would be Dmitry Peskov. He has served as Putin’s chief spokesperson for more than two decades. He was at the president’s side during his rise to power. As a close confidante of Putin’s, Peskovjoins the program from Moscow for an exclusive interview.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Could I quickly ask you, though? I need to ask you this, because the world is afraid, and I want to know whether Putin intends the world to be afraid of the nuclear option. Would he use it?

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: President Putin intends to — intends to make the world listen to and understand our concerns. We have been trying to convey our concerns to the world, to Europe, to the United States, for a couple of decades, but no one would listen to us. And before it is too late, it was a decision to start — to launch a special operation, military operation, to get rid of entire Russia that was created next to our borders.

AMANPOUR: What? To get rid of Russia?

PESKOV: Anti-Russia, because Ukraine — actually, Ukraine started to be — it was formed by the Western countries, anti-Russia.


PESKOV: This is the problem.

AMANPOUR: Look, Ukraine is a country, sovereign. It’s recognized by the United Nations. It’s been around for a very, very long time. But I just want to know. I want to ask you again, is President Putin — because, again, the Finnish president said to me that when he asked Putin directly about this, because President Putin has laid that card on the label, President Putin said that, if anybody tries to stop him, very bad things will happen. And I want to know whether you are convinced or confident that your boss will not use that option.

PESKOV: Well, we have a concept of domestic security, and, well, it’s public. You can read all the reasons for nuclear arms to be used. So, if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used, in accordance with our concept.


PESKOV: There are no other reasons that were mentioned in that text.

AMANPOUR: So, you are basically saying only an existential threat to your country. I still don’t know that I have got a full answer from you. And I just — I’m just going to assume that President Putin wants to scare the world and keep the world on the tenterhooks.

About This Episode EXPAND

Dmitry Peskov has served as Putin’s chief spokesperson and close confidante for more than 20 years, and he joins the program for an exclusive interview. Bellingcat is tirelessly working to track, verify or debunk information surrounding the war in Ukraine. Too often, ordinary citizens get caught up in the day’s geopolitical drama. Jason Rezaian discusses how to help those used as bargaining chips.