Russia Threatens Nuclear Weapons Again: "We are in a state of combat readiness"

Today, in a speech from Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of risking a global conflict and said that no one will be allowed to threaten the world's largest nuclear power

by Sededin Dedovic
Russia Threatens Nuclear Weapons Again: "We are in a state of combat readiness"
© On Demand News / YOutube channel

On May 6th, the day before the inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Ministry of Defense announced the preparation of maneuvers with tactical nuclear weapons. They are scheduled to take place "in the near future" near the Ukrainian border.

These would be the first such exercises since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The maneuvers are expected to be led by missile units from the "Southern Military District" (air defense) with the participation of air and naval forces.

The goal, as stated, is to "increase the readiness of non-strategic nuclear forces." In addition to Russian territories, the area of Russian air defense includes Crimea, annexed in 2014, as well as four regions in southeastern Ukraine that Russia largely occupies.

Representatives of Western countries have repeatedly criticized the Kremlin for nuclear threats. Although President Vladimir Putin has not openly threatened a nuclear strike so far, he has regularly warned the West of the possibility of a nuclear war if they dare to engage in direct conflict with Russia.

As Russian troops advance against Western-backed Ukrainian forces, Putin has accused "arrogant" Western elites of forgetting the Soviet Union's decisive role in defeating Nazi Germany and fomenting conflict around the world, the Guardian reports.

Vladimir Putin Attends Victory Day Parade in Moscow© On Demand News / YOutube channel

More outspoken has been Dmitry Medvedev, former president and currently the second man in the Russian Security Council. Medvedev, who likes to speak out on Telegram, has openly threatened atomic bombs several times.

On Tuesday (May 6th), he reiterated similar statements. Medvedev placed the Russian maneuver with tactical atomic bombs in the context of the debate in the West about whether it is acceptable to send ground troops to Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, did the same, specifically referring to recent statements by French President Emmanuel Macron, who was the first significant politician to mention the possibility of sending ground troops.

Peskov spoke of a "new round of escalation of tensions." Unlike strategic weapons, tactical nuclear weapons have less power and range. They can be artillery-based, but more commonly are ballistic and cruise missiles. They are fired from systems that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

As tactical nuclear weapons, warheads for land-based missile systems with a range of up to 500 kilometers, or sea-to-land and air-to-land missiles with a range of up to 600 kilometers, are considered. However, this classification is not official.

Moreover, there are no clear boundaries in classification. Therefore, some include new Russian cruise missiles Kalibr and hypersonic missiles Kinzhal with a range of several thousand kilometers in tactical nuclear weapons. Experts speaking to DW agree that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine is highly unlikely and nonsensical.

"In military terms, Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine makes no sense under any circumstances," says Pavel Podvig, a leading researcher at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. During the maneuvers, Russia will not be able to practice strikes but only the procedure for using weapons, says the expert.

"Because usually non-strategic warheads are kept separate from missiles and aircraft that can launch them," Podvig says. He hopes that for security reasons, the procedure will be practiced with training ammunition. Plans to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine "have never existed," says Nikolai Sokov of the Vienna Center for Disarmament.

According to him, there were no such plans even in the fall of 2022 when the Russian army withdrew from the regions of Kharkiv and Kherson, although American media speculated about it at that time. According to Sokov, the Russian army is currently superior to the Ukrainian one on the front, advancing and conquering larger territories in eastern Ukraine.

Moreover, Kiev even expects a strengthening of Russian attacks. It seems that nuclear threats have a different goal. "Nuclear escalation" - these two words have been feared in the West since the beginning of the Russian aggression.

Many politicians and experts are convinced that this fear is precisely the reason why weapons are being delivered to Ukraine in a limited and slow manner. And it is precisely this card that the Kremlin is playing, says Matthew Buleg of the American "Wilson" center.

He does not believe that the Russian nuclear maneuvers were announced "just because of France's stance." According to Buleg, it is part of "continuous threats and rattling of weapons" to break the West's resolve in supporting Ukraine.

Furthermore, Putin wants to present himself as a "strong leader," especially on Victory Day over Nazi Germany, which is celebrated in Russia on May 9th, says Buleg. Experts believe that Russian nuclear exercises are a "signal and warning to the West." "Nothing good comes from this political signal, but it should be interpreted as soberly as possible," concludes Pavel Podvig, as reported by DW.

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