On the use of a dirty bomb, Putin earlier said at a Kremlin gathering that “such a threat is rising,” but he has been evasive on Russia’s policy.
On the question of how Moscow would respond if the West supplied Ukraine with depleted uranium shells, following a suggestion by Britain it could supply Kyiv with the munitions, Putin said Russia had vast quantities of the weaponry.
“Russia of course has what it needs to answer. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands of such shells. We have not used them yet,” Putin added in an interview on Russian television.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has warned nuclear threats were creating a dangerous sense of uncertainty around their possible use.
The longer Russia’s operation in Ukraine grinds on, the greater the nuclear strike risk, ICAN warned last month ahead of the offensive’s first anniversary.
US officials have voiced fears that Russia could use nuclear weapons if it feels routed on the battlefield and could plant a fictitious story to justify its actions.
Russia has already spoken of supposed Ukrainian attempts to detonate a “dirty bomb,” drawing strong denials from Ukraine and a sharp rebuke from the United States, which had rare direct communication with Moscow to warn against nuclear use.
Neither the United States nor Russia – by far the largest nuclear weapons powers – officially has a policy of no first use of the ultra-destructive arms.
President Joe Biden recently reviewed the US’s posture and came to the sole conclusion that nuclear weapons should only be used in “extreme situations.”