Why Putin Warns Of Nuclear War? – OpEd


Geopolitical tensions over the last two years have increased the world over with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War, the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas and attacks by the Houthis on the US and allied shipping in the Red Sea. Involvement in Syria of both the US and Russia. The Western countries US-NATO-EU combine proxy war through Ukraine with Russia has further increased tensions due to 2024 being an election year both for Russia and the US.

The statements by the Western leaders have been addressed by President Vladimir Putin in his annual state-of-the-nation address and he warns the West with a nuclear war, which could include strategic deterrence, political leverage and a response to the NATO’s eastward expansion and its perceived threat to Russian security and influence towards Russian borders.

President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address on 29th Feb,2024 to Russia’s lawmakers of both houses of parliament, state officials, military commanders, soldiers and updating them on the war in Ukraine. The speech comes two weeks ahead of a presidential election in which Putin is expected to win another six-year term.

Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech the Relevant Highlights: 

On Ukraine War. “We did not start this war. As I have said many times, we will do everything to end it, to eradicate Nazism. To fulfill all the tasks of the Special Military Operation. To protect the sovereignty and security of our citizens. The combat capabilities of the armed forces have increased multifold. Our units firmly hold the initiative. The fulfillment of all our plans directly depends on our soldiers, our officers and volunteers and all servicemen who are fighting on the front now, from the courage and resolve of our comrades-in-arms who are defending the motherland.” 

On Peace. “Russia is ready for dialogue with the US on issues of strategic stability. There have been more and more unsubstantiated accusations against Russia, for example that we are allegedly going to deploy nuclear weapons in space… is a ploy to draw us into negotiations on their terms, which are favourable only to the US. The words of today’s American authorities simply want to show their citizens and everyone else that they still rule the world.”

Russian President Putin recently invited former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson to conduct an interview aimed at influencing the debate in the US on ceasing assistance to Ukraine in the ongoing war. Putin’s target was the conservatives headed by Trump, who is eyeing a second term as President. His message was that Russia would defend its interests in Ukraine till the end and the West had no chance of a victory; thus, the US would be better off negotiating with Russia. Putin said he was not thinking of sending Russian troops into Poland or Latvia, but his demands in Ukraine had not changed. 

On NATO. “The West provoked the conflict in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in other regions of the world, and continues to lie, without any embarrassment, saying that Russia allegedly intends to attack Europe. There has been talk about the possibility of sending NATO military contingents to Ukraine.” 

Nuclear Threats. “Strategic nuclear forces are in a state of full readiness for guaranteed use. The West is trying to drag us into an arms race. They are trying to wear us down, to repeat the trick they succeeded in the 1980s.Therefore, our task is to develop the defence-industrial complex, technological and industrial potential of the country.”

Russia’s political system is one of the pillars of the country’s sovereignty. “We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs. The so-called West, with its colonial behaviour and habit of fomenting national conflicts around the world, seeks not just to hold back our development – instead of Russia, they want a dependent, declining, dying place where they can do whatever they want.”

Why Putin Warns the West of the Risk of Nuclear War?

President Putin sent across a stern warning to the West, that it risks provoking a global nuclear war if it expands its involvement in the fighting in Ukraine. Giving a threat of a nuclear war was a reaction to French President Macron’s statement that the “Future deployment of Western ground troops to Ukraine should Not be Ruled Out,” Putin warned that such a move would lead to “Tragic” consequences for the countries who risk doing so.

Putin said that while “selecting targets for striking our territory” the West should keep in mind that “We also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory. All this really threatens a conflict with the ‘Use of Nuclear Weapons’ and the destruction of civilization.” Ahead of the US election, they just want to show their citizens, as well as others, that they continue to rule the world. It won’t work,” Putin said.

West led by US and NATO provide military assistance to Ukraine, but do not attack Russian territory. NATO forces do not directly engage in combat. Currently, the situation is roughly balanced, with Russia having a slight advantage. The intensity of Western weapon supplies to Ukraine seems to be decreasing, and with Ukraine’s smaller population and limited military resources, Russia stands an advantage. Putin will never accept the possibility of Western countries’ sending troops as discussed by Macron If Western troops directly engage in combat, the situation in Ukraine will be reshaped. 

Direct participation of NATO countries troops with advanced weapons will greatly impact the Russian front lines, and Putin will face the risk of failing. So, by raising the issue of nuclear weapons, Putin’s goal is to deter leaders of NATO-EU countries of the tragic dangers of a Nuclear War. So, it is all about how best President Putin can ‘Use Nuclear Threat’ to Nuclear Deterrencetohis advantage and keep the EU countries think of his warning of ‘Use of Nuclear Weapons.’

Nuclear threats have served as a demonstration of strength to both domestic and international audiences. It can be used as leverage in diplomatic negotiations and to achieve geopolitical objectives. Putin’s stance on nuclear weapons can bolster his image further domestically, reinforcing his leadership and Russia’s stature on the world stage prior to the elections, when he seeks a vote ahead of a presidential election in which Putin is expected to win another six-year term.

Through repeated nuclear threats Putin plays on Psychological and Information Warfare intimidating and create panic on both leaders and the general populace in the West. Of course, perceived threat of nuclear war receives International Condemnation but does not really impact Russia’s position globally at this stage as the threat is to the West. “We shall overcome everything together.” Putin

Trump and Putin’s statements have created dismay in Europe. Trump had said that he would oppose further military or economic aid to Ukraine. Trump’s threat to withdraw aid has galvanised the EU countries into determined action to support Ukraine.  EU countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Canada have signed agreements with Ukraine to provide long-term military assistance and help integrate it into the EU and NATO eventually. The EU has already agreed on a $54-billion package of loans and grants to Ukraine for the next four years. Even if Trump wins, he will not find it easy to pull the US out of NATO in view of a recent amendment to the annual defence policy Bill which President Biden signed into law last year — it requires a two-third vote in the Senate or an Act of Congress for such a drastic step. Europe has not invested enough in the new armaments for decades, relying on the US military cover. 

Peace Call is nowhere for renewed diplomatic efforts to address the underlying issues of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War and thereby reduce the risk of nuclear confrontation. These conflicts will continue until the UN is reformed and acts to establish a new global order. So far, the UN Global body to maintain world peace has failed to resolve the ongoing conflicts which have created political instability and tensions over the years. The chances are that the Russia-Ukraine War will drag on.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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