Russian President Vladimir Putin jokingly became “lost in thought” when asked to follow up on comments he made in 2018 about Russians being the victims of aggression who would go to heaven in the event of a nuclear apocalypse.
During Thursday’s Valdai Discussion Club event in Moscow, moderator Fyodor Lukyanov told the Russian president that “we grew a bit worried remembering your comments made here four years ago when you said that we would all go to heaven.”
“We’re not in a hurry to get there, are we?,” Lukyanov asked.
Putin stayed silent for a couple of seconds, as some audience members laughed. The moderator broke the silence by stating, “Now that you are lost in thought it’s getting alarming.”
The president laughed and said, “I intentionally got lost in thought to alarm you,” adding that “the effect has been achieved.”
In 2018, the Russian leader was asked about the likelihood of a nuclear war. He responded by saying that Moscow, in accordance with its doctrine back then, could not launch a preemptive nuclear strike and could only conduct a counter attack. Russia would launch its nuclear warheads only after confirming that a potential aggressor had launched ones targeting Russian territory, the president explained.
Nevertheless, he noted that the aggressors should know that retaliation was inevitable and that they would be destroyed. “And we, as the victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven while they will simply die,” he said, adding that “they won’t even have time to repent.”
In late February, Putin issued an order to increase the readiness level of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces shortly after Moscow launched its military offensive against Ukraine. This Wednesday, the president personally oversaw military drills conducted by the Russian Defense Ministry enacting a retaliatory nuclear strike.
Meanwhile, Russia has recently warned that Ukraine is preparing to set off a ‘dirty bomb’ to frame Moscow and has called on the likes of the US, the UK and other nations to investigate these concerns. Ukraine has rejected these allegations and instead claims that Russia is planning to conduct a tactical nuclear strike, which the Kremlin has also denied.