An embattled Vladimir Putin suddenly looks like an increasingly dangerous man who could wreak havoc on our daily lives. He has upped the ante in his illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, a move that suggests Russia is losing and is therefore prepared to resort to more extreme methods – including using nuclear weapons in the war for the first time since 1945.
Russia’s president yesterday announced the mobilization of 300,000 military reservists to support his struggling invasion of pro-Western neighbor Ukraine, which has maintained its independence since the old Soviet Union fell apart in 1991.
When the invasion of Ukraine began last February 24, Putin raised the alert level for Russian nuclear personnel, but not to the highest level. He has also previously warned countries supporting Ukraine that “there could be consequences you’ve never seen”.
Yesterday he again warned the world about the nuclear prospect.
“Russia will use all the tools at its disposal to counter a threat to its territorial integrity – this is not a bluff,” he said.
The working assumption of the experts was that Russia would use nuclear weapons in a conventional war only if there was a real threat to the country’s existence. Putin now appears to be trying to provoke such a situation, working with allies in areas of Ukraine already occupied by Russian forces to fully integrate those areas into “the old motherland” through mock referendums.
During his televised address, Putin also claimed, without proof, that NATO officials had already said nuclear strikes against Russia were acceptable in this conflict. It is worth remembering that as an autocratic ruler, Putin has sole authority over Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. Seasoned observers suggest taking his words seriously.
This serious turn in an already difficult situation means that all supporters of Ukraine – including Ireland – must steel their nerves and remain resolute in Kyiv.
It was encouraging to hear Taoiseach Micheál Martin stress the need for continued EU unity. Ireland’s role in all of this is small, but it remains important at a time when that country has a seat on the United Nations Security Council and holds the six-month presidency of the 46-nation Council of Europe.
Last week, the Council of Europe took the first steps towards an investigation into war crimes against the Russian military in Ukraine, following a request from Ukraine.
Loud voices of condemnation from across Europe and the wider western world, led by US President Joe Biden, will bring comfort to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose forces are managing to push back the Russian invaders.
On the Russian home front, all eyes will be on the domestic public’s reaction to an effective admission by Putin that his war is not going well.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/putins-threat-to-press-the-nuclear-button-cannot-be-dismissed-42008123.html Putin’s threat to press the nuclear button cannot be dismissed out of hand