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Zelensky calls for ‘preventive action’ to deter Russian nuclear strikes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called for the international community to take “preventive action” to deter the potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia in the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In an address to the Lowy Institute, a nonpartisan international policy think tank in Australia, Zelensky underscored the importance of “preventive strikes, preventive action” so that Russia can get a better picture of the potential consequences if they move to use nuclear weapons.

Preemptive steps are crucial to deterrence, Zelensky said. He cautioned against “waiting for the nuclear strikes first.”

The Ukrainian president’s press secretary, Sergii Nykyforov, later clarified Zelensky’s comments after some media interpreted the suggestion to include preemptive nuclear strikes, rather than nonnuclear steps like sanctions.

“You will never hear such calls from Ukraine,” Nykyforov said in a translated Facebook post, asserting that only Russia would resort to “blackmail the world” with nuclear threats.

Zelensky has long called upon the international community to take preventative measures to deter Russia from escalating the conflict, which has waged on for more than seven months.

His comments to the Lowy Institute come after Moscow moved to annex parts of occupied Ukraine by holding referendums considered illegitimate by much of the international community.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also recently threatened that Russia would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against what it perceived as a severe threat, further worrying the global community about the stakes of the ongoing war.

Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv is reportedly prepping for a potential nuclear attack on the city, stocking evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills, which can help against radiation absorption.

In his address Thursday, Zelensky repeated his concerns about Russian military presence at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.

Nearby fighting and Russian control of the Ukrainian workers that still man the site have endangered the plant’s operations on more than one occasion, mounting concerns about a possible nuclear accident.

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