Russia's foreign ministry said it fears that the world's five declared nuclear powers are "on the brink of a direct armed conflict," with Moscow warning of a catastrophic fallout and insisting that avoiding a clash is its top priority.
The Kremlin statement, issued on Nov. 2, accused Western powers of "encouraging provocations with weapons of mass destruction" and called on the West to stop or face the prospect of "catastrophic consequences."
Western powers, by contrast, have accused Moscow of issuing repeated threats to use nuclear weapons as its invasion of Ukraine has faced setbacks and to pressure Kyiv into accepting concessions.
'Unpredictable and Dangerous Consequences'Following a Ukrainian attack on Russia's Black Sea fleet in Crimea last week, Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement on Thursday warning the United Kingdom of "unpredictable and dangerous consequences" after earlier accusing London of helping Kyiv orchestrate a drone attack on its ships in the port of Sevastopol.
"Such confrontational actions by the British pose the threat of an escalation and can lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences," the ministry said in a statement.
The UK, which Russia has also accused of being involved in the Nord Stream pipeline explosions in September, is one of the world's five major nuclear powers.
Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry said in the Nov. 2 statement that it sees avoiding armed conflict between nuclear powers as a key objective amid simmering tensions over the Ukraine conflict.
'Nuclear War Cannot Be Won'The Kremlin added that it continues to stand by a joint declaration issued in January, in which China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States pledged to do everything in their power to avoid a nuclear clash.
"We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," the January joint statement reads. "As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war."
On the same day that the Kremlin issued the warning that the five nuclear powers are teetering on the verge of armed conflict, the Pentagon said the United States has not seen any signs that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
At the same time, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby denounced Russia's rhetoric around the potential use of nuclear weapons.
"We've been clear from the outset that Russia's comments about the potential use of nuclear weapons are deeply concerning, and we take them seriously," Kirby said. "We continue to monitor this as best we can, and we see no indications that Russia is making preparations for such use."
Amid what he calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has on several occasions hinted at the possibility of a nuclear strike, while Kremlin officials have repeatedly said Russia's military doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons if the country's territorial integrity is under threat.
Moscow has sought to portray its actions in Ukraine as preemptive by accusing the West of seeking to establish Ukraine as a military bulwark against Russia, allegations NATO and Kyiv have denied.