Ukrainian officials slammed the global media for “hysteria” after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for world powers to use “preemptive strikes” against Russia to prevent nuclear war.
On Thursday, the president was speaking in a question and answer forum with an Australian think tank. It was then he declared that it is NATO’s responsibility to ensure that Russia cannot use its nuclear arsenal.
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The Interfax news agency reported Zelenskyy declared that “preemptive strikes are needed so that they know what awaits them if they use nuclear weapons.”
The other way around, he said, is waiting on Russian nuclear strikes and then responding. Now NATO would be in a position of “you’ve done that, then get this.”
His comments were not well received in Moscow, where Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Zelenskyy’s words were paramount for “a call to start a world war.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said such a result would have “unpredictable and horrific consequences.” The Russian government called Zelenskyy a “monster.”
U.S. President Joe Biden also did not agree with the sentiment, saying on Thursday that there may be an impending “Armageddon.”
Zelenskyy’s spokesperson, Serhii Kykyforov, clarified later that what the Ukrainian president called for were preventative sanctions to block the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
“The president,” he said, “spoke about the period before February 24.” Kykyforov said that it was necessary to apply “preventive measures,” and the only ones discussed at the time were “preemptive sanctions.”
He further chastised the world media for “incorrect” interpretations of Zelenskyy’s remarks, especially those who suggested that the Ukrainian president called for a nuclear strike on Russia.
Kykyforov accused journalists of hearing “nuclear strikes even when there are none.”
Words have grown hotter since Sept. 21, when Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that his nation would “use everything it can” to protect its territorial integrity. This statement came as the Kremlin looked to annex four Ukrainian regions into Russian territory.
Putin added that his statement was “not a bluff.”