Zelenskyy downplays Putin’s most extreme threats as ‘bluff’: ‘Nothing else is working for him'

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In an interview this week with a German newspaper, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy downplayed the most extreme threats from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, calling them “a bluff.”

Putin notched up his rhetoric as the fighting continued only because “nothing else is working for him,” Zelenskyy told the newspaper Die Zeit.

Recent moves by Putin have included the placement of Russia’s nuclear preparedness on “high alert” as Western leaders imposed tough economic sanctions and made what Putin described as “aggressive statements,” Die Zeit reported Wednesday. (The newspaper’s name in English is “The Time.”)

Previously, Putin had claimed that any attempts by other countries to interfere in the Ukraine invasion would result in “consequences you have never seen,” PBS reported. 

But Zelenskyy voiced skepticism about Putin’s threats, the German report said.

“I think that the threat of nuclear war is a bluff,” Zelenskyy told the newspaper, according to Business Insider. “It’s one thing to be a murderer, it’s another to commit suicide.”

“I think that the threat of nuclear war is a bluff. It’s one thing to be a murderer, it’s another to commit suicide.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

He continued: “Every use of nuclear weapons means the end for all sides, not just for the person using them.

“Putin’s threat shows a weakness,” he added. “You only threaten the use of nuclear weapons when nothing else is working. I am sure that Russia is aware of the catastrophic consequences of any attempt to use nuclear weapons.”

Putin is said to have grown frustrated as Ukrainian forces and civilians have put up a fight against the Russian military. The Russian forces have struggled, for example, in their efforts to capture Kyiv, the capital, which remained in Ukrainian control two weeks after the Russians invaded the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(Associated Press)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also blasted Putin’s “high alert” order as part of the Russian leader’s “dangerous rhetoric,” the report said.

Putin has drawn condemnation from leaders throughout the world for military actions in Ukraine that have included a deadly airstrike on a hospital earlier this week.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its third week Thursday after getting underway Feb. 24. Russian forces have invaded regions in the north, east and south of the country, forcing more than 2 million Ukrainians to leave their homes, either to shelters inside Ukraine or to refugee sites in Poland or other countries.

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