In a rare, televised address on Wednesday, Putin warned that if Russia’s territorial integrity was threatened, the Kremlin “will certainly use all means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimatum to the West sharply raises the risk of a nuclear conflict, analysts and campaigners have warned, as world leaders condemned what they described as a “reckless” and “irresponsible” threat.
A Rare television address On Wednesday, Putin called for additional forces to the war in Ukraine and warned that if Russia’s territorial integrity is threatened, the Kremlin “will certainly use all means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”
It was widely interpreted as a threat that Putin was ready to use nuclear weapons to escalate the war after a string of Ukrainian successes.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday doubled down on the Kremlin’s nuclear posture, saying any weapon in Russia’s arsenal could be used to defend its territories — including strategic nuclear weapons.
It comes as a pro-Moscow regional leader in areas of southern and eastern Ukraine Referendum announced On accession to Russia. Votes are expected to take place in the Russian-controlled regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. allegedly Amounts to about 15% of Ukrainian territory.
The outcome of the referendum is widely believed to have been pre-determined by the Kremlin, prompting the US and its allies to denounce them as “”evening“
Political analysts say the Kremlin could then view Ukraine’s military action against these four areas as an attack on Russia itself.
“Citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our motherland, our freedom and independence will be guaranteed, I emphasize again, with all means at our disposal,” Putin said.
“These statements go beyond Russian nuclear doctrine, which only suggests Russia’s first use in a conventional war when the existence of the state is threatened,” said Andrey Baklitsky, a senior researcher on weapons of mass destruction and other strategic weapons programs. United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
“Coming from the person who has sole decision-making power about Russian nuclear weapons, this has to be taken seriously,” Baklitsky said, adding that it was difficult to determine whether Putin’s citation of “territorial integrity” was the Kremlin planning to exploit. Four Ukrainian regions.
“None of this means Russia will go nuclear. That would be a truly world-changing decision,” Baklitsky said.
“And it’s not clear whether such a move would even lead to any desired results [President] Putin … but raising the conditions for possible use amid an ongoing war is a huge gamble,” he added. “All of us, including Russia, would be safer without one.”
In a speech at United Nations headquarters in New York City on Wednesday, Biden accused the Kremlin of making “reckless” and “irresponsible” threats and said, “A nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.”
His comments echoed those of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who told Reuters on Wednesday That the 30-nation Western defense alliance would remain calm and “not engage in the same reckless and dangerous nuclear rhetoric as President Putin.”
Beatrice Finn, Nobel Laureate and Executive Director of the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, called on political leaders to renew efforts to get rid of all nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
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Putin has hinted at Russia’s nuclear weapons at various times during the conflict with Ukraine. Still, doubts remain among Western leaders about whether Moscow will deploy weapons of mass destruction.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky told the German media Wednesday that he does not believe the world will allow Putin to use nuclear weapons.
Beatrice Finn, Nobel laureate and executive director of the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, told CNBC that Putin’s “incredibly dangerous and irresponsible” threats drastically increase the risk of escalation into nuclear conflict.
“The threat of using nuclear weapons lowers the threshold for their use,” Feehn said by email. Even without discussing the devastating humanitarian impact of the use of so-called ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, subsequent discussion by politicians and commentators about the possibility of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons and possible nuclear repercussions is eroding the prohibition against their use.”
Finn called on the international community to “condemn any and all nuclear threats” and urged political leaders to renew efforts to get rid of all nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying them. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Max Hess, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank, described Putin’s nuclear threat as a “very important announcement.”
“Now, the real threat in Putin’s speech was that he is prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory, including the territory they plan to annex,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe.”
“This includes not only Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the traditional Donbas, but all of Zaporizhia and all of Kherson — Ukrainian regions that are highly contested and where the Russians do not fully control them.”
Hess added, “what this means for the territories still under Ukrainian control in terms of Putin’s threat”.
According to Timothy Ash, emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, if Putin were to use so-called strategic nuclear weapons in Ukraine, there would be “no going back” and “no negotiation.”
In such a scenario, Putin “is done with the West forever, and maybe then even the Chinese, India, South Africa, the BRICS and the rest of the non-aligned world turn against him,” Ash said. The acronym BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
A weapon of mass destruction, or WMD, “is a deterrent,” Ash said. “Once it’s used, its power is actually negated.”