Russia keeps escalating nuclear war threats

As Russia suffers more territorial losses on the ground in eastern Ukraine, figures close to the Putin regime are escalating both the frequency and blatancy of their threats to use nuclear weapons. Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's region of Chechnya who has mobilized his regional forces to fight in Ukraine, stated on social media platform Telegram Oct. 1: "In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons." (Reuters

Kadyrov's comment came as Russian forces retreated from Lyman, a key city in Donetsk oblast—mere days after Putin had declared the entire oblast as annexed. "In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines," Moscow's Defense Ministry said, using the Russian name for the city. (CNN)

Former president Dmitry Medvedev, who has repeatedly made blatant nuclear threats in recent weeks, on Sept. 27 wrote on Telegram that such threats are "certainly not a bluff." He said that if Kyiv continues its offensive on annexed territory, Russia could be "forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime which had committed a large-scale act of aggression that is dangerous for the very existence of our state."

Medvedev expressed his confidence that the West would not retaliate in kind to a Russian nuclear strike on Ukraine: "I believe that NATO will not directly intervene in the conflict even in this situation. After all, the security of Washington, London, Brussels is much more important for the North Atlantic Alliance than the fate of a dying Ukraine that no one needs." He added: "The supply of modern weapons is just a business for Western countries. Overseas and European demagogues are not going to perish in a nuclear apocalypse. Therefore, they will swallow the use of any weapon in the current conflict."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Oct. 2 that he believes the Russian threats "could be a reality." In Washington, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan only stated vaguely that the US will "respond decisively" to any Russian use of nuclear weapons. (Reuters, The Hill)

Biden warns of 'Armageddon'

President Joe Biden on Oct. 6 delivered a stark warning about the dangers behind Putin's nuclear threats. "First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use [of a] nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going," Biden warned during remarks at a Democratic fundraiser in New York. (CNN)

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials were quick to issue a "clarification" after President Volodymyr Zelensky in an Oct. 6 speech appealed to NATO "to do preemptive strikes, so they know what will happen to them if they use it, and not vice versa—to wait for nuclear strikes by Russia."

Top Moscow officials, including Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov, accused Zelensky of calling for a nuclear war.

Zelensky's media rep Serhii Nykyforov explained that the comments were referring to preventive sanctions, and assured that Ukraine would never call for the use of nuclear weapons. (Kyiv Independent)

Yeah, this smacks of back-pedaling. And if so—good. But those tankies exploiting Zelensky's words to portray UKRAINE as the aggressor are beneath contempt. This came after MONTHS of relentless Russian nuclear threats against Ukraine.

Russia floats 'drity bomb' conspiracy theory

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his French counterpart in a telephone call Oct. 21 that the situation in Ukraine is rapidly trending toward "uncontrolled escalation." In the call with Sebastien Lecornu, published by the Russian side, Shoigu said Moscow has concerns Ukraine could use a "dirty bomb" in its own territory as a provocation—without providing evidence. (Reuters

The US rejected the claims as "transparently false." Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba that "the world would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation," and vowed to continue supporting Kyiv for as long as necessary. (The Guardian)

Russia to bring 'dirty bomb' theory to UN

Russia intends to raise before the UN Security Council its accusation that Ukraine is preparing a "dirty bomb" attack, and urged UN chief Antonio Guterres to act to "prevent this heinous crime from happening." (Reuters) Ukraine has responded by inviting IAEA inspectors to the nuclear facilities named by Russia in its accusations. (Reuters)