Russia Threatens Ukraine with ‘Irreversible Consequences’

July 14, 2014, 8:07 a.m.

The Rus­si­an For­eign Min­istry on Sunday warned Ukraine of “ir­re­vers­ible con­sequences” after a cross-bor­der shelling, stok­ing con­cerns of a nuc­le­ar threat.

The min­istry said it had of­fi­cially pro­tested the shelling, which killed one Rus­si­an man. It de­scribed the event as “an ag­gress­ive act by the Ukrain­i­an side against sov­er­eign Rus­si­an ter­rit­ory and the cit­izens of the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion,” Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

“This rep­res­ents a qual­it­at­ive es­cal­a­tion of the danger to our cit­izens, now even on our own ter­rit­ory,” Rus­si­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Grigory Karas­in said in an in­ter­view with state tele­vi­sion. “Of course this nat­ur­ally can­not pass without a re­sponse.”

This latest state­ment comes on the heels of Rus­si­an For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lav­rov’s com­ments last week, which seemed to con­sti­tute a pos­sible nuc­le­ar warn­ing to Kiev should it ever try to mil­it­ar­ily re­take Crimea, ac­cord­ing to The Dip­lo­mat.

“If it comes to ag­gres­sion against Rus­si­an ter­rit­ory, which Crimea and Sevastopol are parts of, I would not ad­vise any­one to do this,” Lav­rov said dur­ing a press brief­ing. “We have the doc­trine of na­tion­al se­cur­ity, and it very clearly reg­u­lates the ac­tions, which will be taken in this case.”

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to re­cent state­ments made by seni­or Ukrain­i­an of­fi­cials prom­ising to re­take Crimea. Rus­sia’s cur­rent mil­it­ary doc­trine au­thor­izes the use of nuc­le­ar force against a large-scale con­ven­tion­al at­tack by re­gion­al foes.

The doc­trine, re­vised in 2010, states: “The Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion re­serves the right to util­ize nuc­le­ar weapons … in the event of ag­gres­sion against the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion in­volving the use of con­ven­tion­al weapons when the very ex­ist­ence of the state is un­der threat.”

The Dip­lo­mat noted that, at the press con­fer­ence, Lav­rov re­ferred to this mil­it­ary doc­trine and ad­ded that the Krem­lin views Crimea as an im­port­ant part of Rus­si­an ter­rit­ory.

Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin lately has ap­peared to sig­nal that Rus­sia would dial back its mil­it­ary in­volve­ment in Ukraine’s struggles with sep­ar­at­ists, many of whom are as­sumed to be sponsored by Mo­scow. However, the Krem­lin’s re­cent rhet­or­ic could in­dic­ate that the nuc­le­ar su­per­power is not done in­ter­ven­ing with force in its former So­viet satel­lite state, months after it uni­lat­er­ally an­nexed the Crimean Pen­in­sula, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

Mean­while, the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment denied that its armed forces were be­hind the re­cent shelling, call­ing it “total non­sense” and po­ten­tially the work of sep­ar­at­ists.

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