On Thursday, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin warned NATO that a Russian loss in Ukraine might lead to a nuclear war. In contrast, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church predicted the end of the world if the West sought to destroy Russia.

On the eve of a meeting of Ukraine’s partners to discuss delivering Kyiv more weapons, such apocalyptic rhetoric is being used to dissuade the U.S.-led NATO military alliance from becoming even more involved in the fight.

However, this rare moment of public doubt from a member of Putin’s inner circle was a stark reminder that Russia could lose on the battlefield.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s influential security council, warned in a Telegram post that “the defeat of a nuclear state in a conventional conflict may precipitate a nuclear war.”

“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends,” said Medvedev, president from 2008 to 2012.

In a similar vein, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church warned in a sermon for Epiphany that an attempt to destroy Russia would destroy the world.

Medvedev warned NATO and other defense officials to consider the costs of their approach before they gather on Friday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss strategy and support for the West’s endeavor to defeat Russia in Ukraine.


The head of the Kremlin has spent the past few months trying to psych out the Russian people by promising them victory in a conflict that Western officials have repeatedly stated he will never be allowed to win.

President Joe Biden has warned that a battle between Russia and NATO may ignite World War Three, while the United States has refuted Russian assertions that it wants to destroy Russia.

Top Putin backers, however, argue that the tens of billions of dollars in military aid from the United States and Europe to Ukraine demonstrates that Russia is now fighting with NATO itself – the Cold War nightmare of both Soviet and Western leaders.

In a sermon, Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, said, “We pray to the Lord that he bring the madmen to reason and make them see that any intention to destroy Russia will be the end of the world.”

“Today is an alarming time,” state news agency RIA quoted him. “But we believe that the Lord will not leave Russian land.”

PSergei Lavrov, Putin’s foreign minister, told reporters in Minsk that Russia would do whatever it could to get NATO and EU leaders to “sober up” as soon as possible.

“I hope that reality will set in,” Lavrov said. “We will do everything we can to help our NATO and EU colleagues come to their senses as soon as possible.”


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 sparked the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II and the worst standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been called an imperial land grab by the US and its allies. Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier leaves its territory.

Medvedev has frequently threatened a nuclear war since Russia invaded Ukraine. Thus his acknowledgment of the potential of Russia’s defeat shows how worried Moscow is about further Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

The United States and Russia, the world’s two major nuclear powers, own almost 90% of all nuclear weapons.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, was asked if Medvedev’s comments indicated that Russia was taking the issue to a new level, and he responded, “No, it does not mean that.”

After an “attack against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very life of the state is challenged,” he stated, “Medvedev’s words were fully in agreement with Russia’s nuclear doctrine.”