Handelsblatt: Putin and the nuclear bomb – How far will the Kremlin leader go?

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The use of nuclear bombs in the days of the Cold War was an oppressive and abstract idea, according to a Handelsblatt article. At that time the spectrum of nuclear “revelation” was almost forgotten. But suddenly the threat is still ubiquitous.

“Vladimir Putin, his government and the state-controlled Russian media are talking more and more openly about the possible use of nuclear weapons:” All relevant decisions have been made, “Putin said in Moscow. The state-run Ria Novosti news agency quoted him as saying, “We will not brag about it. We will use it if necessary. And I want everyone to know.” Russia has all the necessary tools, which no other country can claim, said the Russian strongman.

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The head of the state propaganda channel “Russia Today” (RT), Margarita Simonjan, also recently shocked a talk show with the statement: “Either we will win in Ukraine, or the Third World War will start. Personally, I believe that the Third World War “It’s the most realistic scenario, because knowing us, knowing our leader Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a nuclear strike is the most likely development.” Talk show host Vladimir Soloviev, who is also on Western sanctions lists, added, referring to the West: “We will all end up in paradise, but they will die miserably.”

Experts see these increasingly threatening gestures as an attempt by Moscow to divide the West. Liana Fix, a Russia expert at the Körber Foundation, told Handelsblatt: “Since the beginning of the war, Russia has been using nuclear threats as a political tool to intimidate and deter the West from sanctions and military support. Ukraine”.

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Stefan Meister of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) agrees: Moscow’s threats with nuclear weapons were intended to “instill fears and cast doubt on further arms deliveries”.

Meister, who has been researching Russia for more than a decade, warns not to be impressed by war propaganda: “By not acting, we will not stop Russia from doing what it wants to do.” On the contrary: “If nothing else, it would make Moscow go further. The Moscow regime has practically no red line anymore.”

The US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, has strongly denied Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statements about the “real danger” of nuclear war. The United States, Sullivan said, would not allow “nuclear blackmail.” Rhetoric about Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons has recently escalated in an “extremely irresponsible way,” he said. “We do not approve of nuclear weapons cracking and being on the brink of nuclear war,” Sullivan said.

However, the United States says it does not believe there is a threat from Russian nuclear weapons, despite Moscow’s recent verbal escalation. “We continue to monitor their nuclear capabilities as best we can on a daily basis. We do not consider there to be a threat of Russian use of nuclear weapons,” said a spokesman for the Pentagon. Also, the US could not detect any threat to NATO territories.

The United States initially postponed a scheduled test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile and then canceled it altogether to reduce tensions. Putin, meanwhile, had tested Russia’s “Sarmat” intercontinental ballistic missile a week ago and was deluded that it was a “truly unique weapon.” It has a range of 18,000 kilometers and therefore flies farther than any other rocket.

The missile “will make those who try to threaten our country in the heat of aggressive rhetoric think twice”. Meanwhile, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian missile development company Roskosmos, tried to show cynicism. “Sarmat” was a “gift to NATO”.

The United States had deliberately escalated the situation and stressed that Moscow had announced the test. Therefore, it was not identified as a threat. While Putin raised the alarm level of his nuclear powers in the eyes of the world public, the US avoided this step. However, Sullivan stressed that Washington was ready to “reciprocate the nuclear attack against the United States with the same force.”

Several Western experts speculate that Putin is calculating a rapid nuclear escalation if the country’s conventional forces are no longer able to reach their target. Putin is already under enormous pressure. The British and American intelligence services today conclude that the Moscow army is making almost no progress in Donbas either.

In addition, targets such as fuel depots on Russian soil are now being attacked and destroyed again and again by Ukraine. Earlier, the Russian army was forced to withdraw from the suburbs of Kiev and from the whole of northern Ukraine, as a large-scale attack stopped and Russian forces there were exhausted.

Now experts see the danger of Putin losing his temper. Because World War II ended on May 9, 1945, the anniversary is a historic day for Russia. For the Kremlin leader, this day would be ideal to declare his triumph over the “Nazis in Ukraine”. Traditionally, Moscow celebrates Soviet victory over Hitler’s Germany with a large military parade.

If his time is running out and he feels he is on the defensive, this could possibly prompt him to use regular nuclear weapons, ie locally limited small nuclear explosive devices. “Whether we get there depends on when Moscow decides it has no choice,” he said.

“Moscow will not embark on a nuclear adventure if it suffers,” said the Russian researcher. In fact, the consequences would be serious. Russia would have to operate in radioactively contaminated territory and would also be expelled worldwide. Therefore, he considers Putin’s nuclear sabotage to be “more rhetorical than real.”

Source: Capital

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