“Russia is ready to defend territories added to it with all means, including strategic nuclear weapons,” said Medvedev, in a reference to planned referendums by Russian-installed and separatist authorities on Ukrainian territory.
Medvedev, now the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said the votes will go ahead and “there is no going back”.
“The Western establishment and all citizens of Nato countries in general need to understand that Russia has chosen its own path,” Medvedev said.
His statement came 24 hours after Putin raised the prospect of nuclear warfare over the conflict in Ukraine, a move condemned by several world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Liz Truss at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Putin warned against “nuclear blackmail”, threatening to respond with the might of his own vast arsenal. He said he was not bluffing over using all the means at his disposal to protect Russia’s territory, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Russia’s nuclear capability.
“We are talking about partial mobilisation, that is, only citizens who are currently in the reserve will be subject to conscription, and above all, those who served in the armed forces have a certain military speciality and relevant experience,” Putin said.
His address alarmed many across the world and caused thousands of Russians to try and flee the country.
Votes in four regions of Ukraine now controlled by Russia are set to go ahead at the weekend.
Western nations have said they will not recognise the results of the referendums.