Ukraine defence chief plays down Russian nuclear strike threat

Ukrainian Defence Minister Reznikov talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's defence minister said on Thursday he did not believe Russia would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine as it would be neither pragmatic nor practical, but that in Russia's case all risks needed to be calculated.

Concern about possible nuclear escalation during Russia's war in Ukraine surged after two speeches by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he indicated that he would, if needed, use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

"I don't think they will use it. But again, when you have a monkey with a grenade for a neighbour you have to estimate all kinds of risks. But I think this is not a pragmatic and practical step for them," Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Reuters.

In an interview in Kyiv, he said he hoped India and China - countries Moscow wants to do business with - had indicated to Putin clearly that using nuclear weapons would be a "red line".

"What is the technical condition of their nuclear weaponry? Do you know? No. Me? No. They also don't know. Because the last test they carried out in the 1990s in Kazakhstan, more than thirty years ago."

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Max Hunder; editing by Mike Collett-White and Cynthia Osterman)