The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Unpacking Medvedev’s Nuclear Threats

Dmitry Medvedev, currently holding the position of deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has been making a lot of threats lately.  Threat of the nuclear kind.  Are they bluster, or are they warnings?  It’s time to start unpacking Medvedev’s nuclear threats.

Medvedev, who once was President of the Russian Federation (generally seen as a placeholder when Vladimir Putin was termed out of office), was generally regarded as somewhat moderate, though Putin (appointed as Prime Minister during Medvedev’s term) was believed to be the real power of the government.  It was during Medvedev’s time that the war with Georgia started.

When Putin became President again, Medvedev moved over to the Prime Minister position and, during Putin’s second term, the Security Council.

During the Ukraine war, Russia media and politicians have made many statements about it, mostly backing the war.  Polls show that the public is in favour of it.  Of course, criticising the war is illegal in Russia, so it is difficult to know whether these statements are what the person is actually feeling or if it is because they are required to say it.

If you read some of the papers published, you’ll see some advocate for the use of nuclear weapons to subdue the enemy.  Discussion panels have joined in the call for escalation, even against NATO itself.

Of course, media love to fan the flames and politicians will say anything to get re-elected.

But what of Dmitry Medvedev?

Putin’s friend, Putin’s Right-Hand Man, Putin’s puppet.  What does he have to gain by making such statements?  He doesn’t need to worry about elections or ratings.

Is he a hyper-patriot?  Is he so radical that he is branching out far beyond the government’s position and plan for the war?  Or is he sending a not-so-subtle message to the West as to how far Russia will go to protect its interests, warning what will come if the West continues to support Ukraine and Ukraine starts to make significate gains against Russia’s invasion?

What has Medvedev said so far?

“Just imagine that the offensive… in tandem with NATO, succeeded and ended up with part of our land being taken away. Then we would have to use nuclear weapons by virtue of the stipulations of the Russian Presidential Decree…”

“There simply wouldn’t be any other solution…  Our enemies should pray to our fighters that they do not allow the world to go up in nuclear flames.”

“One thing that politicians of all stripes do not like to admit: such an Apocalypse is not only possible, but also quite probable,”

“Defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war.”

“Imagine if the…offensive, which is backed by NATO, was a success and they tore off a part of our land then we would be forced to use a nuclear weapon according to the rules of a decree from the president of Russia.”

Predictions? Or warnings?

None of Medvedev’s statements has been refuted or rebuked by Russia.  Imagine if the Vice President of the United States said something like this?  What would happen? How quickly would the statement be backtracked?  Or the White House hold a press conference denying what was said?

Should anyone take the chance that this is just bluster?

Has Medvedev ever said anything else that was not to be taken at face value?

Sir Winston Churchill, in a radio broadcast in October 1939, once said about Russia”

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

That, “Russian National Interest,” could be the key to unlocking the frequent nuclear threats attributed to Dimitry Medvedev.

How far would Russia go to protect those interests?  How far was the United States willing to go to protect its interests during the Cuban Missile Crisis?  There are a variety of opinion on the subject.

U.S. President Joe Biden warned that Russia’s nuclear threat was real.  A recent poll in Russia warned that the Russian public was against the use of nuclear weapons.

If Russia were to use a nuclear weapon, the United States was ambiguous as to whether or not it would resort to nuclear retaliation.  That’s good and bad.  That means that nuclear use does not necessarily mean that there would be nuclear escalation. It also means that Russia could consider nuclear weapon use would not necessarily mean that there would be nuclear retaliation.

So what do we make of Medvedev’s statements?

Russia has been clear that it wants Crimea. Specifically the warm water port.  How badly?

The DEFCON Warning System, which has analysed nuclear threats for over forty years, believes the threat is real.  Russia may be willing to compromise on recently captured territory. It may even compromise on new NATO countries.  It may even compromise on the status of Ukraine.

But Russia will never give up Crimea and the warm water port.  That port is the only one that Russia has access to year-round.  That is why it invaded Crimea in 2014.

It has nothing to do with Russian citizens, oppression by the Ukraine government, or history.  It’s for the warm water port.

Russia may be looking to relive old Soviet days now by expanding its empire.  It may believe in historical territory, protecting citizens, and whatever else it claims.

But that warm water port is what it needs.  And Russia will protect it by whatever means necessary.  Don’t doubt it.

Medvedev is giving the world a warning.  Russia’s red lines have been very flexible.  But it stops at that port.

If you see Ukraine troops moving into Crimea, start to get worried.

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


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The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.