KYIV -- Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine are unlikely to intimidate anyone -- and if launched, those weapons could end up falling on Russia itself, observers say.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (October 5) signed into law his annexation of four Ukrainian territories -- Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia -- following its sham referendums the week before.
In theory, Russia's annexation would allow Moscow to accuse Ukrainian forces of attacking Russian territory and give it a pretext to use nuclear weapons.
In Russian military doctrine, tactical nuclear weapons can be used to force an adversary to retreat.
When Putin on September 21 announced a "partial mobilisation" of 300,000 reservists, he vowed to use "all available means" to protect Russian territory.
This was also seen as a threat to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine attempts to take back the annexed territories.
Putin has made no secret of his frivolous approach toward nuclear security.
Speaking at a forum of international specialists in Sochi, Russia, in October 2018, Putin joked about Russia as a supposed victim in a theoretical nuclear exchange.
"The aggressor will have to understand that retaliation is inevitable, that it will be destroyed and that we, as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven," he said.
"They will simply die because they won't even have time to repent," he said to some laughter from the audience.
The following year the Russian armed forces tested missiles that can carry thermo-nuclear warheads during exercises involving "heightened tensions on Russia's border".
The threats have prompted warnings from Western nations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an interview broadcast September 24, confirmed reports that the United States has sent private warnings to Russia to steer clear of nuclear war.
"We have been very clear with the Russians publicly, and, as well as privately, to stop the loose talk about nuclear weapons," Blinken told the CBS News programme "60 Minutes" in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
"It's very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we've made that very clear," Blinken said.
"Any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic effects for, of course, the country using them, but for many others as well."
Several other countries -- France, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom -- have responded similarly to Russia's nuclear threats.
Meanwhile, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said Russia should consider using low-yield nuclear weapons after Moscow's troops were forced out of Lyman, a key town located in eastern Donetsk province.
"In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and use of low-yield nuclear weapons," Kadyrov said on his Telegram channel on October 1.
But Russia's threats are just bluster, say observers.
"We're not talking about actual use. The nuclear issue itself is simply being used as a bit of political blackmail," said Dmytro Snegiryov of Kyiv, a military analyst and co-chair of Just Cause, a non-governmental organisation.
"In recent years, Russian intelligence agencies have formed a permanent lobby in developed countries," he told Caravanserai. "It promoted an idea regarding the use of nuclear weapons to instil fear and force Western countries to bow to their blackmail. Now, at the Kremlin's command, all these resources have been activated."
"It's a question of Ukraine liberating its territories, although Putin is already calling them his own," he said.
"The Kremlin is signalling that the Armed Forces of Ukraine must not advance farther, but in reality, no one is giving in to this blackmail," said Snegiryov.
In recent weeks, Ukraine's forces, bolstered by Western weapons, have evicted Russian troops from a string of towns and villages in the southern Kherson province and the eastern separatist strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country's forces were making "rapid and powerful" gains and had retaken "dozens" of villages in the east and south.
The latest battlefield maps from Moscow showed that Russian troops had left many areas in Kherson, including along the west bank of the Dnipro River.
In Kharkiv, the maps indicated that Russian forces had almost entirely abandoned the east bank of the Oskil river, potentially giving the Ukrainians space to shell key Russian troop transportation and supply corridors.
The myth of a nuclear power
Russia's nuclear capabilities are exaggerated, analysts of nuclear arsenals point out.
"This Poseidon torpedo that Russia boasts of is not even a torpedo but a mini- submarine," said Ivan Kirichevsky of Kyiv, a military analyst with Defence Express, a consulting firm. "It can't reach high speed. As soon as they launch this torpedo and it heads towards America, it will be easily detected."
Recent unsubstantiated reports suggested that Russia plans to test the nuclear-capable torpedo, which can purportedly can travel thousands of kilometres under water.
"It is a very primitive weapon. Put simply, 'braggadocio'," said Kirichevsky.
Russia's arsenal is mainly obsolete missiles and warheads, he added.
"According to documents, Russia is believed to have about 6,000 nuclear warheads," he said. "We have to deduct roughly 1,500, because they are old and have served their time. They are listed on paper, but they are not fit for a nuclear war."
"For example, the stated service life of Topol, Topl-M and Yars ballistic missiles is up to 15 years. They were produced in the 1990s and 2000s ... most of these missiles have already come to the end of their service life. And when launched, they may fall on Russia."
"The last nuclear test in Russia was in 1996. What is the state of the nuclear weapons? That is the big question," said Snegiryov of Just Cause.
Russia could end up dropping a nuclear warhead on itself, he said.
"This is no joke -- this could really happen," he said. "Their tanks stall on Red Square during parades. When you look at situations like that, you realise that Russian nuclear weapons are a threat not to the world but primarily to Russia itself."
Taand news website writes: Hugo Shorter, Chargé d'Affaires of the United Kingdom in Afghanistan, denied the accusation of Russian President Vladimir Putin that Britain supports the armed opposition of the ruling administration of the Taliban. United Kingdom's Chargé d'affaires said that his country does not support those who want to bring changes in Afghanistan through violence. Putin has said that the United States, Britain, and some other Western countries are encouraging and supporting the armed opposition of the Taliban through their intelligence agencies to attack the borders of the neighboring countries. In contrast, the British Chargé d'affaires says that Putin's information regarding the issue is inaccurate. He added,"Britain continues to work with the Taliban in addition to promoting stability, human rights, and good governance." In his recent remarks, the Russian president also said that the civil war in Afghanistan should be averted; however, he did not provide more details about it. You can understand how much Britain hates Afghans and Afghanistan by doing such things. The documents and evidence show that the British formed the Taliban project with the support of Pakistan in 1994. Later they overthrew them along with the United States, and now they support other groups against them. It seems that the ultimate goal of Britain and its allies is to kill Afghans and to destroy Afghanistan.Reply
Paying compensation to Afghanistan will shin Russia's humanitarianism in the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a historic speech at the 6th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on Thursday, October 13, 2022, that "Afghanistan should be compensated for the damage done to it during the last few years." We appreciate Mr. Putin's historic speech, he speaks the truth, and we demand that compensation should be demanded from all the destroyers of Afghanistan. Mr. Putin's statement that Afghans should be compensated for the wars they fought, Afghans should demand compensation from Russia for the destruction of the Soviet era; if Putin gave one ruble, the West would be forced to pay a hundred times more. This will turn Russia into an International humanitarian country. Noor Rahman Liwal Former Afghan presidential candidateReply
Speaking to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington yesterday, Zelinsky said that Ukraine needs about $55 billion. This means that, in addition to the number of people killed in the Russia-Ukraine war, a $55 billion loss was made in cash. This is sad. I wish so much money had been spent on the goodness of mankind, scientific progress, and the development of the world's poor countries. It is unfair to blame one side for the war. Various parties are involved in this.Reply
There is a famous saying in the Pashto language that I will share its meaning here; the sky does not rain as much as it roars. As much as Putin brags, he cannot do anything. If you recall, Putin said at the beginning of the attack on Ukraine that the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a special operation, would end as soon as possible. However, when he faced the persistent resistance of the brave Ukrainians, he said that he had achieved his goals and want to focus on eastern Ukraine. However, he did not make it clear which goals he achieved. Again, when he faced Ukrainian resistance in the east of Ukraine, he ordered the narrow mobilization of Russian forces and threatened the world with nuclear war. The world did not give any importance to Putin’s threat; and on the contrary, Ukrainian troops are recapturing more and more land with each passing day. My appeal to the free and civilized world is to support Ukraine as per the commitments shown by G7 so that Russia faces a complete defeat and never thinks of invading a poor and weak country ever again.Reply
Putin's administration is also involved with Putin in this crime. It is not the work of one person. It is the work of the entire administration. America considers itself very intelligent. It should provide a way for the opponents to launch a coup against Putin and imprison him for the rest of his life. This means that the existing system in Russia neither benefits the Russians nor the rest of the world. So is Pakistan. The current rulers of Russia do not think that their ongoing barbaric actions will not have any reaction. If Putin's administration faces using nuclear weapons, Ukraine will surely get nuclear weapons and use them against Russia. The question is, what is the benefit of such work? The benefit is known to be zero. But the loss is those innocent Russian civilians, Ukrainian civilians, and possibly other people of the world will be killed as Japanese civilians did. At this point, the United Nations and the world superpowers should cooperate with Putin and his administration to prepare them not to use nuclear weapons. Also, in the second step, all countries should destroy nuclear weapons. In the third step, all weapons kill more than one person; in the fourth step, any weapon that kills a person must be destroyed. Believe in God that Allah will be happy, Muhammad the messenger of Allah (SAW), Jesus Christ (AS), Musa the Great (AS), and even Hindu and Buddhist guides will be happy. May Allah have mercy on all His creatures. AmenReply
Putin knows more than anyone else in the world that Russia has failed in Ukraine and cannot recoup it with such actions. Putin also understands that any use of nuclear weapons will erase Russia's name from the world map. It is not only Russia that holds nuclear weapons. Other countries are also equipped with such weapons. Putin puffs, and these boasters, can only deceive Russia's stupid people. Previously the Soviet leaders had made such boasts many times, and they threatened the world of using nuclear weapons every day, but on the ground, they could do nothing. Putin again employs the tactics of the corrupt leaders of the Soviet Union, but he doesn't know that the world is united against the terror of this cruel and brutal man and will punch him in the mouth.Reply