Arms Race

Putin Warns of Nuclear Vulnerability, Threatens Weapons Supply to West

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a chilling warning to Europe, claiming that the continent is "defenceless" against Russia's nuclear weapons. Speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin highlighted Europe's lack of a developed early warning system, suggesting that a nuclear attack could occur without warning. He emphasized Russia's significant nuclear arsenal, stating that it possesses "many more" tactical nuclear weapons than the entire European continent, even when combined with the United States.

Putin also refused to rule out changes to Russia's nuclear doctrine, the document outlining the conditions under which Russia would employ nuclear weapons. He cited the evolving global landscape and the ongoing testing of nuclear weapons as factors that could necessitate adjustments to the doctrine. While downplaying the immediate risk of a nuclear strike, Putin acknowledged that such an action could be considered in "exceptional cases."

The escalating rhetoric surrounding nuclear war has become increasingly prevalent this year, with Putin and his allies frequently invoking the threat. This trend has intensified in recent weeks, raising concerns about the potential for a nuclear conflict.

Adding to the growing tensions, Sergei Karaganov, a close ally of Putin and head of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, suggested using the threat of nuclear war as leverage against the West in the context of the Ukraine conflict. This suggestion comes shortly after Putin hinted at the possibility of supplying advanced conventional long-range weapons to other countries, potentially targeting Western interests.

This move appears to be a response to NATO allies, including France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, providing Ukraine with weapons capable of striking Russian territory. Concerns have arisen that Russia might supply weapons to US adversaries such as Cuba and Venezuela, where Russian naval assets are currently engaged in military exercises in the Caribbean.

Putin stated that while Russia is not currently supplying these weapons, it reserves the right to do so to countries or entities facing pressure, including military pressure, from nations supplying weapons to Ukraine. Vladimir Solovyov, a prominent host on Russian state television, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing Russia's willingness to retaliate against any perceived threats. He warned that those seeking to harm Russia should be aware of the potential consequences, suggesting that Russia possesses the means to inflict significant damage.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09