Zelensky warns Putin’s nuclear threat ‘could be a reality’

Putin announces 'partial mobilisation' of Russia's military

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In an ominous warning to Western allies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Vladimir Putin could end up executing his nuclear threats. After conquering parts of Eastern Ukraine, Russian troops now appear to be on the back foot, as Ukrainian troops are mounting a successful counteroffensive. In response, Putin announced he would mobilise 300,000 reservists and also threatened with nuclear weapons. 

When asked if he thinks Putin is bluffing at this juncture of the war, President Zelensky told Face the Nation: “Look, maybe yesterday it was bluff.

“Now, it could be a reality. 

“Let’s look at contemporary use of nuclear weapons, or nuclear blackmail. He targeted and occupied our nuclear power plant in the city of Enerhodar.”

President Zelensky said: “He continues his blackmail related to us exporting electricity to Europe. 

“Several days ago, they [Russians] started shooting at another nuclear power plant. The nuclear plant lost all the windows and doors, etc.

“So, he wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail.”

“I don’t think he’s bluffing. I think the world is deterring it and containing this threat. 

“We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue.”

In a televised speech last week, Putin called for the deployment of 300,000 reservists and raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons “to defend Russia and our people.”

“This is not a bluff,” he added.

High-ranked officials – the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg – have joined President Zelensly in raising concern over Putin’s use of nuclear weapons, saying Putin’s threats must be taken “seriously.”

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia is estimated to have around 6,000 nuclear warheads – the highest number in the world after the United States. 

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Both NATO and the US have contingent plans in place. The White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued an ominous public caution, saying “the US will respond decisively”  and “there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia has the right to respond “without much consultation” as tensions rise with the West over referendums held in large swathes of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.

Medvedev has regularly issued aggressive statements on the West and Ukraine in recent months, underlining his transformation from an apparently Western-minded liberaliser as president from 2008-2012 to strident geopolitical hawk.

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