Vladimir Putin Warns of ‘Growing’ Threat of Nuclear War

Vladimir Putin has said the threat of a nuclear war was rising, but insisted Russia had not “gone mad” and would not use its nuclear weapons first.

The Russian president insisted that his country would only use weapons of mass destruction in response to an attack.

Speaking at Russia’s annual human rights council meeting, he also said the war in Ukraine could be a “lengthy process”.

Western officials believe Putin initially planned for a rapid victory.

Russia’s capacity to use nuclear weapons has come under increased scrutiny since it invaded Ukraine in February.

“Such a threat is growing, it would be wrong to hide it,” Putin warned while talking about the prospect of nuclear war via video link from Moscow.

But he asserted that Russia would “under no circumstances” use the weapons first, and would not threaten anyone with its nuclear arsenal.

“We have not gone mad, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are,” he said, adding: “We aren’t about to run around the world brandishing this weapon like a razor.”

Putin also boasted that Russia had the most modern and advanced nuclear weapons in the world, and contrasted Russia’s nuclear strategy to the US – who he said had gone further than Russia by locating its nuclear weapons on other territories.

“We do not have nuclear weapons, including tactical ones, on the territory of other countries, but the Americans do – in Turkey, and in a number of other European countries,” he said.

Appearing to recognise that his plan to claim victory within days of invading Ukraine had failed, Putin admitted the war could be a “lengthy process”.

Putin has previously insisted that Russia’s nuclear doctrine only allowed for the defensive use of nuclear arms.

However, he said the results had already been “significant” – for example, the new territories Russia has illegally claimed after sham-referendums in four regions of Ukraine.

He boasted that the annexations had made the Sea of Azov – which is bordered by south-east Ukraine and south-west Russia – an “internal sea” of Russia, adding that this was an aspiration of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. President Putin has compared himself to the ruler before.

But – despite claiming the regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk as Russian territory – Russia does not control large parts of those areas.

Last month, Russian forces were forced to retreat from Kherson city, the only regional capital it had seized since the February invasion.


Control map of southern Ukraine
The Sea of Azov is to the north-east of Crimea

In the run-up to Wednesday’s meeting, 10 members of the council who had expressed doubts about the war were removed. Pro-war replacements were brought in instead.

Subjects to be discussed during the meeting were also heavily vetted beforehand, according to the independent Russian news outlet Vertska.

In recent weeks, Russia’s nuclear doctrine has come under close scrutiny on the circumstances in which it could use nuclear arms, in particular a “tactical” weapon that might be unleashed on the battlefield in Ukraine.

A tactical nuclear weapon is for use in combat, as opposed to the larger “strategic” weapons which are designed to cause massive destruction.



Arab Observer

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