Russia did not threaten the West with nuclear weapons over the protection of the Crimean Peninsula, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

“Of course not,” Peskov told journalists in response to a question of Russia’s apparent threat of using nuclear arms to protect Crimea.

Earlier Thursday, two British newspapers, The Times and The Independent, claimed that Russia intended to use nuclear force to protect Crimea in March 2014 if NATO had moved additional forces to the Baltic states.

Western media reports of Russian alleged threats to use nuclear weapons in the Baltics is a clear example of ongoing hysteria in demonizing Russia, Kremlin spokesman said.

“This is a classic example of the continuing hysteria in demonizing our country, that is they are literally twisting the situation around themselves in their information plans, while not even being guided by any fundamental information, then they get scared over what they wrote,” Peskov told journalists in Moscow.

He added that “such publications shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

The Times and The Independent claimed that Russian representatives had said that attempts to return Crimea to Ukraine would be met “forcefully including through the use of nuclear force” during a March meeting of Russian generals and US officials in Berlin.

According to the newspapers, the generals stated that a wide range of responses, from diplomatic to nuclear, would follow if NATO moved more troops into Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

NATO has been increasing its presence in eastern European countries near Russia’s border over the past year amid strained relations between the bloc and Moscow, saying it would double the amount of troops stationed near Russia in February.

The military bloc accuses Russia of interfering in the Ukrainian internal crisis. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed all the accusations, pointing out that NATO expansion toward Russian borders only serves to further escalate tensions and undermine regional security.

Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014 following a 96-percent majority of votes for reunification.


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