The conflict in Ukraine has taken many unpredictable twists and turns since Russian troops invaded in late February, but one former high-ranking former Kremlin official believes that the only way President Vladimir Putin will utilize nuclear weapons is if he perceives an “existential threat” to his homeland and that now is not the time for panic, as Fox News reports.
Speaking to Fox News Digital, former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev opined that while there is certainly a chance Putin would unleash elements of his nuclear arsenal amid the current hostilities, it would only be likely to happen under “very, very specific situations.”
“If Russia or one of those countries really threatened in their hearts – existentially, that is…. if NATO troops come to Moscow, then probably they will resort to nuclear weapons,” Kozyrev added.
Offering some semblance of reassurance to those who remain on edge about Putin’s seemingly mercurial nature, Kozyrev declared, “But there is no existential threat to Russia under the present circumstances.”
The topic of Putin’s attitude toward nuclear escalation has been the subject of much speculation in recent days, with Brent Sadler of the Heritage Foundation recently theorizing that if Russia sustains heavy losses in what is predicted to be an uptick in fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine, a tactical nuclear attack is not out of the question.
“That might be the case where a tactical nuclear weapon might be considered to demonstrate resolve and basically reverse any trends going on in the Russian military,” Sadler said. “I don’t see them using city killers, because that would definitely usher in World War III, and the assumption is if he does that he’s attacking NATO.”
Expressing rather less confidence in Putin’s ability to exercise restraint, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday said that the world must “prepare” for his adversary to unleash nuclear or chemical weapons in furtherance of his territorial aims, according to the New York Post.
“We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons. …We must prepare for that,” said Zelensky. “Anti-radiation medicine and air raid shelters would be needed,” adding that Russia “can use any weapon, I’m convinced of it.”
Kozyrev, however, does not believe the threat is anything close to what Zelensky described, saying that Putin’s bluster amounts to “barking” with “no way to bite” and that “responsible [Russian] military commanders will do everything to avoid such a scenario and to prevent the use of nuclear weapons… .” Whether they succeed, however, only time will tell.