Vladimir Putin warned today that the risk of nuclear war is ‘increasing’ but insisted that Moscow has not ‘gone crazy’ during a televised meeting with officials.
The Russian despot boasted that his country had the “most advanced weapons” in its arsenal, but claimed that the Kremlin sees its own nuclear weapons merely as a deterrent.
His comments come after months of speculation that the likelihood of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine was increasing as its forces suffer increasingly embarrassing defeats in the field. There have also been fears that Putin may resort to the use of a dirty bomb and chemical weapons in an attempt to tip the scales in his favor.
Meanwhile, Russia’s presidential body was reportedly warned “not to pester” Putin with tricky questions about his ongoing invasion ahead of the televised meeting that saw a rare candid admission from the country’s embattled leader.
Vladimir Putin warned in a televised meeting with officials (pictured) today that the risk of nuclear war is “increasing”, but insisted that Moscow has not “gone mad”.
His comments come after months of speculation that the likelihood of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine was increasing as its forces suffer increasingly embarrassing defeats.
“When they hit us, we fight back,” Putin said during a meeting of his so-called Human Rights Council (HRC).
He stressed that Russia’s nuclear strategy was based on a “so-called retaliatory strike”, but added that Moscow would defend the country’s territory “with all available means”, without ruling out nuclear weapons.
According to Vyorstka, an investigative news website cited by the Moscow TimesHRC President Valery Fadeyev clarified all the questions and issues that will be discussed at the meeting with the presidential administration in the previous weeks.
Topics deemed prohibited included Russia’s draconian laws criminalizing ‘fake news’ about the military (which can result in 15 years in prison), anti-mobilization protests, the group’s recruitment of prisoners of war Wagner mercenary fighting in Ukraine, and a harrowing video showing a Wagner defector being executed with a sledgehammer to the head.
HRC members were also told to avoid the “toxic” topic of dead Russian troops, of whom there have been tens of thousands since Putin ordered the invasion on February 24, 2022, more than nine months ago.
Council members were also told to talk to Putin about the misguided mobilization campaign “very cautiously” and to avoid causing public fears of a second wave of mass conscription, something Putin ruled out during the meeting.
Topics that HRC members could cover included Western sanctions and their oft-voiced view that Russia is being mistreated by the West.
Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers run to help people in a burning apartment building after Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
During the meeting, Putin seemed to state the obvious when he warned of a prolonged military intervention in Ukraine, more than nine months into the conflict that the Kremlin hoped would end after a multi-day attack on Kyiv.
His comments came after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said fresh Russian attacks on a market and a gas station had killed six people and wounded several more in the frontline Donetsk region.
With the one-year mark of the conflict approaching, Russian forces have failed to achieve most of their key military objectives, including the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the capture of the Donbas region, and the annexation of four regions.
Moscow expected the fighting to last only a few days before Ukraine’s capitulation, but Putin warned on Wednesday that results could be a long time coming.
“As for the long process of (seeing) the results of the special military operation, of course, this is a long process,” Putin said during a televised meeting with the Kremlin’s human rights council.
But he hailed Russia’s announced annexation of four Ukrainian territories after Moscow’s representatives held a referendum, denounced in the West as a sham, and announced their integration in September.
“New territories appeared, well, this is still a significant result for Russia and it is a serious problem,” Putin said.
This aerial photo taken on December 7, 2022 shows an expert from the prosecutor’s office examining the collected debris of shells and missiles used by the Russian military to attack Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.
The Russian leader formalized the annexation of the four southern and eastern territories – Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – at a ceremony in the Kremlin in September.
But Russian troops at no time controlled all of these regions and were driven out of the southern region’s regional capital of Kherson last month after a months-long counteroffensive by Ukraine.
That same month, Putin announced that Russia was mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Russians to bolster Moscow’s hard-pressed force after a series of battlefield setbacks, particularly in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.
He said on Wednesday that half of the Russians called up for military service in September had been deployed to Ukraine.
“Of 300,000 of our mobilized fighters, our men, defenders of the fatherland, 150,000 are in the area of operations,” Putin said, adding that some 77,000 were in combat units.
Since the capture of the city of Kherson, fighting in Ukraine has focused on the industrial region of Donbas, where Russian forces have been pushing to capture the city of Bakhmut on the front lines.
Zelensky, after visiting the frontline region this week, said on Wednesday that Russian forces killed six civilians and wounded several others in a recent shelling.
“Terrorists attacked the peaceful city of Kurakhove,” he said in a statement on social media. ‘A market, a bus station, gas stations and residential buildings were attacked. At least six civilians were killed, five were injured.
The Donetsk region has been partly controlled by Russian forces since 2014, when Moscow-backed separatists seized control of Donbas near the Russian border and Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula.