Nuclear blast (illustrative)
Nuclear blast (illustrative)iStock

Russian President Vladimir Putin will resort to using nuclear weapons in the event he believes there is an “existential threat” to his country or to his rule, Russia’s former foreign minister said on Monday.

"They could be used, but in very, very specific situations," Andrei Kozyrev told Fox News Digital.

"If Russia or one of those countries really threatened in their hearts – existentially, that is … if NATO troops come to Moscow, then probably they will resort to nuclear weapons."

"But there is no existential threat to Russia under the present circumstances," added Kozyrev, the author of "The Firebird: The Elusive Fate of Russian Democracy.”

Putin remarked about nuclear weapons after Sweden and Finland signalled they were considering applying for NATO membership in June when the next NATO meeting takes place in Madrid.

Ukraine’s president also warned that Russia might use chemical or even nuclear weapons, urging world leaders to prepare for such contingencies.

Speaking with CNN in an interview that aired Sunday, ​President Volodymyr Zelensky said the potential use of chemical or nuclear weapons posed a threat to the entire planet, and urged foreign powers to prepare anti-radiation medicine and air raid shelters.

However, Kozyrev described Putin’s threats as “barking” with “no way to bite.”

"The responsible military commanders will do everything to avoid such a scenario and to prevent the use of nuclear weapons unless they believe there is an existential threat to their motherland," he said.