Western capitals are making plans in case the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will take steps to implement its threats of nuclear strikes against Ukraine. This is reported Fanancial Times citing five Western officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
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Ukraine’s allies believe that the threats will not be implemented, but are stepping up “nuclear vigilance and deterrence.”
“If he thinks that a threat can intimidate Ukraine into capitulating or giving up 20% of its territory, or intimidate us into not helping Ukraine, then the opposite will happen,” one senior U.S. official said.
Two other Western officials said a nuclear strike on Ukraine was unlikely to elicit a corresponding response, but that conventional military retaliation would be taken to punish Russia. One of them said: “There are a lot of red lines, and they are probably not where he says [Путин]”.
If Putin resorts to nuclear weapons, the most likely scenario would be to use tactical nuclear weapons to keep the West from supporting Ukraine, officials and analysts say.
“Putin would rather threaten to use nuclear weapons and get concessions than actually use them,” said James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at Carnegie University.
The poor coordination of Russian military units since the invasion of Ukraine began, some military experts say, suggests that nuclear strikes may not materially change the outcome of the battle.
- The United States has told the Kremlin directly, privately, at a very high level, that any use of nuclear weapons would be disastrous for Russia, and that the United States and its allies will respond strongly, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said today.
- President Vladimir Zelensky admitted that the threat from Russia with a nuclear strike “yesterday could be a bluff, but today it can be a reality.”
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