Putin’s nuclear threat to Ukraine may not be a bluff, advisor says

Russia: Yusin warns nuclear weapons may be used in "days”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s horror threat to commit a nuclear attack against Ukraine amid his brutal invasion may be more than just empty words, a US security advisor has warned. Lloyd Austin spoke about this to CNN this over the weekend, claiming that Moscow may go ahead and press the red button, unleashing weapons from its 6,000-strong nuclear arsenal seven months into the conflict, after revealing that the US had been drafting up responses to this kind of scenario. He said: “There are no checks on Mr Putin. He made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, he could make another decision.”

This comes after the Russian President himself warned that his own nuclear threats were in fact not just a bluff. Putin said last week: “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country … we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. “This is not a bluff.”

And Mr Austin was not the only one who appeared to believe that Putin is in fact telling the truth this time.  Fiona Hill, a member of the National Security Council staff under President Trump, told Los Angeles News: It isn’t a bluff. He’s losing on the battlefield, so he’s trying to intimidate Ukraine and the West into giving up.”

This comes after Putin himself admitted that Russia’s invasion of his neighbouring country may not be going as well as he might have hoped. The Russian President admitted that “mistakes were made” during his mobilisation. 

He said: “In the course of this mobilisation, many questions arise and it is necessary to correct all the mistakes and correct them from happening”.

It comes after Russian troops were forced to pull out of Lyman just days after the Kremlin said it was annexing the city in a humiliating turn of events for Moscow. The eastern city in the Donetsk province has a population of 20,000 and is part of one of four regions that Russia declared it was annexing. 

But just hours after Ukraine’s Defence Ministry warned that its forces were entering the city, Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it responded by pulling its troops out of Lyman to avoid a situation where its forces were trapped. 

The ministry said in a statement posted on Telegram: “Due to the risk to be encircled, the allied forces were withdrawn” from the area and sent to “more advantageous” locations.

Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a nuclear expert and fellow from Cambridge University, told Express.co.uk that the more Putin’s troops struggle on the battlefield, the “closer we are getting” to a nuclear attack.

He said: “I think Putin is clinging on by his fingernails and will say anything to justify whatever he does to stave off defeat in Ukraine. Add this to the forced annexation of 4 regions and we are getting closer to when/where Putin thinks he can use nuclear weapons.”

And if Putin did decide to unleash a nuclear warhead, he has a terrifying arsenal to choose from. This includes six “super-weapons”, such as the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), dubbed Satan 2 by the West. 

Russia launched the 16,000mph rocket in a missile test back in April, but the US downplayed the incident as a threat at the time. 

Spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing that “testing is routine, and it was not a surprise”, He added that the US “has not deemed the test to be a threat to the United States or its allies”.

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But Putin’s comments about the weapon may have appeared somewhat intimidating. He said: “This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice.”

The “super-weapon” is also said to be so powerful that it may be able to target enormous areas far bigger than London, and is capable of hitting targets the size of France or Texas.

The missile is tipped to be a heavy-class liquid-propellant ICBM, the weight of one such missile exceeds 200 tonnes. It is reportedly 35.3 metres long, three metres in diametre and is referred to as a heavy ICBM capable of carrying a 10-ton payload.

Russian state media claims that the Sarmat can carry up to 10 large warheads and 16 smaller ones, but this is not the only “super-weapon in Russia’s arsenal. The Poseidon underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) is designed to provide the Russian Navy with a new nuclear-capable torpedo. 

It is powered by a mini nuclear reactor and theoretically has an unlimited range. Russia claims it can travel at depths of up to 1km, placing it beyond the reach of conventional manned submarines.

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