'Putin's nuclear threat is REAL…not just words', warns opposition

‘Putin’s nuclear threat is a REAL threat…not just words’, Russian opposition politician warns

  • Fierce Putin critic warns Russia is not bluffing with the threat of nuclear war
  • Experts divided on whether the threat is real and when nukes would be used 

Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear war are real, according to Grigory Yavlinsky, a Russian opposition politician and founder of the liberal Yabloko party.

The Ukrainian-born Russian and longtime critic of Putin’s regime, 70, told Newsweek that Putin’s ‘nuclear threat is a real threat… this is not [just] words.’

He warned that Russia might use its nuclear capabilities if Ukraine were to try to recapture Crimea.

Two weeks ago, former President Dmitry Medvedev said the effects of the potential global nuclear catastrophe would last decades ‘until the rubble ceases to emit radiation’, reiterating threats of nuclear war against Ukraine’s allies.

Yavlinsky, born in Lviv, has gone up against Putin in three presidential elections. 

Ukrainian servicemen fire an artillery cannon aiming to Russian positions nearby Bakhmut frontline in Chasiv Yar as military mobility continues between Ukrainian and Russian forces

A Russian Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile launched in April 2022

The economist and politician authored a plan to transition the dying USSR into a free market economy.

READ MORE: Six steps to Armageddon: In a chilling account, top military expert explains how Putin could launch nuclear strike if faces further humiliation in Ukraine

He is the former leader of Yabloko, founded in 1993 as the progressive social-liberal party on the centre-left in Russia.

Yavlinsky has repeatedly called for a ceasefire to end the war, raising concerns about Putin’s nuclear threat.

Putin has several times claimed Russia’s readiness to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with the west.

Last month, he suspended the New START programme, the formal nuclear arms control between Russia and the US. 

In January, Medvedev also warned that Russia losing the war could trigger a nuclear response. 

The Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has maintained that Putin is ‘not bluffing’ about using nuclear weapons against the west. 

Some have suggested that these claims by top Russian officials are merely bluffs to deter western intervention.

The Institute of the Study of War (ISW) think tank said in late February that nuclear warfare in Ukraine was ‘extraordinarily unlikely’ to happen.

They said the threats were part of ‘an information operation meant to discourage Ukraine and the West’ and did not ‘represent any material Russian intent to employ nuclear weapons’.

A top advisor to Ukrainian president Zelensky also warned that the West must ignore Putin’s threats at the end of January.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to President Zelensky, told The Times: ‘Putin is not ready to press the red button’ as Russia understands the consequences of doing so.

Heavily damaged area with apartments and playground is cordoned off in the suburb of Saltivka, Kharkiv, Ukraine on March 11

Ukrainian servicemen on a BMP-2 tank drive towards the city of Bakhmut on March 11

Podolyak added: ‘Any use of nuclear weapons, even tactical ones, will lead to the inevitable death of most of the Russian political elite. They understand this very well.’

Russia has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons built up since the Cold War.

Russian tactical nukes, with a yield of between ten and 100 kilotons, are designed for use on the battlefield in contested territory.

For comparison, the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945 was approximately 18 kilotons.

Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons.

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