Russia already has enough “hyenas” to deal with in Europe, Vladimir Putin has told his Zimbabwean counterpart © Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emerson Mnangagwa shared a laugh during a tense debate on nuclear diplomacy on Friday, as they discussed how to deal with the real and metaphorical “hyenas” threatening their countries.

During a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), political scientist Sergey Karaganov urged Putin to update Russia’s nuclear doctrine to allow nuclear retaliation against countries that strike Russia with conventional weapons.

With multiple Western nations – including the US, France, and Germany – recently giving Kiev permission to use their missiles in long-range strikes on Russian territory, Karaganov argued that these countries have grown complacent and need to be reminded of Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

“They have gone mad, especially the Europeans,” he told Putin. “It’s how animals behave. If there is a herd of hyenas or wild dogs and you’ve got a stick, you can keep them at bay. But there’s a high chance that they will tear your clothes, and if you get tired they will bite you to death. If you can kill a couple of them then they will disperse.”

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Russia ‘not even thinking’ of using nuclear weapons – Putin

“President Mnangagwa knows about the behaviour of hyenas,” Karaganov continued, before asking the Zimbabwean leader: “Do you agree Mr. President, that this is how you deal with hyenas?”

“We do have lots of hyenas in Zimbabwe, but we keep them in the national parks,” Mnangagwa replied. “We have no problems with them, but they breed a lot, and if there is anybody who wants them, we are ready to donate,” he added, to laughter from the audience.

“Well we’ve got hyenas of our own in Europe,” Putin responded.

Russian nuclear doctrine has not changed since 2010. It allows for the use of atomic weapons in the event of a nuclear first strike on its territory or infrastructure, or if the existence of the Russian state is threatened by either nuclear or conventional weapons.

“I do not believe that it is the case now,” Putin said, adding that Russia “needs no nuclear weapons to achieve victory” in Ukraine. However, Putin noted that changes to Russia’s nuclear doctrine “are not ruled out.” (RT)