Is it all snow?
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s renewed nuclear threats have raised fears that his war plan in Ukraine is not limited to the mobilization of additional troops.
Although he has previously issued repeated threats against the West, Putin’s mild warnings in a rare national address on Wednesday showed he is willing to raise the risk of nuclear conflict to avoid defeat. Shame on the military.
The Russian leader accused the United States and its allies of “nuclear blackmail” and said without elaborating that senior officials of NATO states said it was possible “to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction in Russia.”
He then offered a noteworthy reminder:
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means we can to defend Russia and our people,” Putin said, in an apparent reference to Moscow’s massive nuclear arsenal.
“It’s not rude,” he added.
Whether Kyiv and its allies are now more concerned about the threat is debatable, analysts said.
“I think it’s a sign that he wants people to think he’s risking nuclear war,” said Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “I don’t think it means he’s likely to do as well as he did yesterday.”
In a speech in February announcing the start of what the Kremlin called its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Putin warned that anyone who dared to intervene would face the full force of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Russia.
This time, however, he was faced with a different reality: His army had suffered humiliating setbacks, his troops were demoralized and depleted, and he was facing rare criticism at home.
Hoping for victory, the Russian leader has combined his nuclear threats with calls for reserves in his plan to seize occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“He’s doubling down politically because he’s losing militarily,” said Michael Clarke, a professor of war studies at King’s College London. “Creating more ‘Russian’ territory is an attempt to intimidate the West because Russia’s nuclear doctrine has always maintained that nuclear weapons will only be used in direct defense of Russia. He said, ‘This is not a bluff, ‘ which shows that there is.”
Although the country’s military doctrine limits the use of nuclear weapons to a direct threat to the existence of the Russian state, observers noted that in his address, Putin used the vaguely defined term “territorial unity” when discussing the appropriate conditions for a nuclear response. . .
It seems to be increasing the possibility of nuclear use in the middle of the war, and as Russia plans to absorb four Ukrainian regions, it means that Putin has “sucked up”. analysts he said.
“If Ukraine continues to try and liberate its territory after the referendum, a fake referendum, does that mean he will immediately attack?” said O’Brien, professor of strategic studies. “I think this is how he got into boxing. It’s certainly an aggressive statement, but it’s not a smart policy.”
Kyiv has already indicated that Russia’s attempt to annex new territory has not changed anything and has vowed that its military will continue to fight. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also expressed doubts on Wednesday that Putin will use nuclear weapons.
Washington largely dismissed the threats as irresponsible, but there is nothing new, although NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticized Putin for “dangerous and reckless rhetoric.”
While it may not be a prelude to nuclear war, O’Brien said Putin’s threats should be taken seriously by Moscow’s powers.
“But I think it shouldn’t be, ‘We’re going to end the world,'” he added.
In fact, when Ukraine attacked annexed Crimea this summer, territory Moscow considers Russian, Putin did not reach for the nuclear button, O’Brien noted.
“If he says that any attack on the territory he calls Russia will be a direct nuclear attack, Ukraine has already defeated the one in Crimea,” he added.
Putin may also be trying to persuade Western countries, including the United States, to provide Kyiv with more weapons that it has used to greater effect on the battlefield, said Keir Giles, a Russia expert and senior adviser to of Chatham House, London your thoughts.
“Putin’s speech is full of hints that Russia has been unable to defeat Ukraine on the battlefield, so it must look elsewhere for victory. And that victory, Putin hopes, can come through the elimination of international support for Ukraine,” he said. said Giles. “That is why Russia is encouraging the West to support Ukraine, and appeal to the most fearful among Western leaders, especially those most vulnerable to Russia’s repeated nuclear threats.”
Pro-Kremlin voices cheered Putin’s rise, which comes after months of state media broadcasting talk of possible nuclear strikes on European capitals.
As Russia’s plans to annex new Ukrainian territory emerged on Monday, one of the Kremlin’s top propagandists declared: “This week marks the night of imminent victory, or the night of nuclear war. I don’t see a third way.” I can.”
Neither, apparently, can Putin.
Source : www.nbcnews.com