Nato countries can be “destroyed” by Russia within half an hour in the event of a nuclear war, the head of Russia’s space agency has said in a provocative claim.
Dmitry Rogozin, the 50-year-old head of Roscosmos, is known for making shocking statements.
In his latest comments, made in a number of posts in the Russian language on his Telegram channel on Sunday, he did not specify whether he was talking about any particular Nato countries or all of them.
Mr Rogozin also accused Nato of waging a war against Russia and chose to elaborate on his own definition of Russia’s “special military operation”, a term used by the country’s president Vladimir Putin to refer to the Ukraine invasion.
“In a nuclear war, Nato countries will be destroyed by us in half an hour,” he said. “But we must not allow it, because the consequences of the exchange of nuclear strikes will affect the state of our Earth.”
Therefore, he said, Russia will have to “defeat this economically and militarily more powerful enemy” with conventional armed means.
“Nato is waging a war against us,” Mr Rogozin stated in another Telegram post. “They didn’t announce it, but that doesn’t change anything. Now it’s obvious to everyone.”
“This is a war for the truth - and the right of Russia to exist as a single and independent state,” Mr Rogozin further said.
“The very existence of a Ukraine separate from Russia will inevitably turn it into anti-Russia and a springboard of the west for aggression against our people. That is why what we call a Special Military Operation goes far beyond its original meaning and geography,” he added.
Mr Rogozin, in another statement, attacked tech mogul Elon Musk for being “involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment” and said he would be held accountable like an adult.
Mr Musk, in a cryptic tweet, had spoken about “dying in mysterious circumstances” just hours before Mr Rogozin’s remarks.
He had previously said Roscosmos would leave the International Space Station and criticised sanctions imposed on Russia.
His comments on Nato countries come a day before Moscow’s military hardware trundled through the city’s Red Square for the annual Victory Day military parade, when Russia observes a holiday to mark the Soviet Union’s role in defeating the Nazis in 1945.
Overseeing the parade, Mr Putin lashed out at Nato countries for taking control of territories adjacent to Russia. He also claimed the west was preparing for an invasion of Russian “lands” and that “enemies” had tried to use “terrorists” against them.
“We saw military infrastructure being ramped up, hundreds of military advisers working and regular deliveries of modern weapons from Nato. (The level of) danger was increasing every day,” Mr Putin said.
“Russia has given a preemptive response to an aggression” in what he described as a “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country.”
Russia is currently focusing on operations in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, the Donbas, where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since 2014, when Ukraine‘s Crimean Peninsula was annexed by it.
The Russian millitary has rearmed and resupplied its forces after withdrawing it from areas near Ukraine capital Kyiv and other regions of the country’s northeast and moved them to Donbas.
It is seen as an apparent attempt to encircle and destroy the most capable and seasoned Ukrainian troops concentrated there.
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