Vladimir Putin’s “martyr complex” is so out of control that there is a risk it will encourage Russia to use nuclear and chemical weapons, a group of experts has warned, amid growing concern over “hysterical rhetoric” of the Kremlin.
A new report published by the US think tank Heritage Foundation has highlighted a growing risk that the Russian president will “make one of the most fateful decisions of the century” in the face of his faltering invasion of Ukraine.
It also describes how the Kremlin has reached “a state close to hysteria” over the “ridiculous” assessment that NATO poses a military threat to the country.
Since Putin invaded Ukraine, his propagandists have continued to threaten the UK with a nuclear holocaust, and the rhetoric has continued to escalate in recent months.
The study, titled The United States and its allies must understand and respond to Russia’s nuclear threats, explores the real likelihood that Putin will resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction.
A new report published by the US think-tank the Heritage Foundation has highlighted a growing risk that the Russian president will “make one of the most fateful decisions of the century”.
Since Putin invaded Ukraine, his propagandists have continued to threaten the UK with a nuclear holocaust.
Russian generals are understood to have discussed the use of tactical nuclear weapons in November, but are said to be cautious about using long-range weapons.
However, Russia has ‘increasingly portrayed the West as an enemy and now appears to accept tactical strategic nuclear weapons as an option to deter further escalation of combat.
The country is understood to have between 1,000 and 2,000 nuclear weapons of different sizes.
Western nations view the use of such weapons as a last resort, but the report states that Russia may resort to tactical nuclear weapons “at the beginning of the exercise or at the midpoint.”
The report outlines four situations in which Putin would resort to nuclear weapons; preempt an attack on Russia; use against Russia; a threat, such as a cyber attack on Russian command and control systems; and an existential threat to Russia from conventional or nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons provide a “comfort blanket” for the Kremlin, but it is more likely to use nuclear weapons than the West, he says.
Faced with its stalled invasion, Russia has focused on bombing Ukraine’s electricity and water supplies.
But Putin is said to have a “higher tolerance threshold” for civilian and military casualties than Western nations amid reports of Russian mercenaries taking part in suicide attacks in the battle for Bakhmut.
It comes as Moscow has launched a massive winter offensive involving hundreds of thousands of newly called up reservists and convicts recruited from jail as mercenaries, who have been mounting human wave attacks in an attempt to overwhelm the city’s defenders.
Small groups of soldiers advance against the Ukrainian positions, many of whom are shot down by machine gun fire as they approach. Those killed are simply replaced by others who are also considered expendable.
An inmate who was hit by a Russian S-300 missile on Wednesday morning in Kharkiv, Ukraine
A man walks past a building with a large banner reading “Russia doesn’t start wars, it ends them.” Vladimir Putin’ in the center of Yalta, Crimea
This tactic is known as human wave attacks, with reports suggesting it was pioneered in the Ukraine by the Wagner mercenary group, which at its height had 50,000 soldiers, many convicts, to crash into Ukrainian positions.
And the report has found that the likelihood of Russia using nuclear or chemical weapons is rising amid a desire to attack Ukraine’s morale.
It says: ‘Russia has failed to defeat the Ukrainian army and is now focusing on forcing the capitulation of the civilian population by attacking electricity and water supplies.
“Therefore, it is plausible that Russia is not just threatening to use, but actually using, a weapon of mass destruction to attack civil resistance in Ukraine.
“Russia is focusing on destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and with the nuclear industry now producing about 60 percent of pre-war power, a Russian attack on nuclear power plants to cut off electricity and create an incident makeshift nuclear power is a real prospect.
It has also warned that the use of chemical weapons against metro stations in eastern Ukraine would be ‘devastating’.
The report cites the use of chemical weapons in Syria as proof of Russia’s will.
He has also highlighted Russia’s efforts to “arm refugees” and create massive flows of people into Western countries to the point of “overwhelming” them.
The study refers to the flow of Syrian refugees to Turkey and Europe, with Russia’s goal of creating a second wave of Ukrainian citizens who put pressure on the resources of neighboring countries such as Hungary, Moldova and Poland.
Despite continued threats from Moscow, the Ukrainians continue to resist the invasion, with the fighting becoming more intense as it progresses.
But the study has warned that the risk of humiliation in military failure increases the risk of Putin using nuclear weapons.
Members of the Ukrainian special unit gather in the forest near Bachmut in the Donbas region on Wednesday.
Members of the Plast scouting organization laid flowers near the coffin of fallen Ukrainian soldier Dmytro Pashchuk during a memorial service.
The report adds: ‘Putin’s concept of ‘greater Russia’, with Ukraine and Belarus in Russia’s sphere of influence, is under deadly attack: Ukrainians collectively want to be free of Russian control.
“The greater the threat from Moscow, the greater the Ukrainian desire to be free. With or without Western support, the Ukrainians will fight.
“Putin’s dream of Russia as an illiberal, quasi-Soviet, anti-Western state faces humiliation and defeat. In Putin’s mind, this crisis may have become existential, which, according to Russian doctrine, would justify the use of any and all weapons.
It also highlights Putin’s ‘martyr complex’ and previous comments about ‘the glory of dying for one’s country’ creating a fetishistic idea linking Russian Orthodox Christianity and nuclear weapons.
In response to the growing threat of nuclear weapons, the report has outlined six recommendations.
He suggests that the US and its allies should deter Russia “by making sure the Kremlin understands that any use will provoke an overwhelming conventional response that would severely degrade Russian forces and Putin-serving elites.”
Countries must also engage in diplomacy to ensure that Russia’s allies also warn Russia against using nuclear weapons.
The report adds that medical reserves must be maintained and communication channels with Russia must be kept open, even if the Kremlin does not respond.
Putin, right, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu watch the joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus Zapad-2021 at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region , Russia.
Yars ICBM launched in strategic deterrent exercises in October last year
He concludes: ‘Russia would probably prefer to threaten the use of nuclear weapons and fight conventionally. But Putin and his generals aren’t necessarily bluffing.
“Threatening to use nuclear weapons to divide Western populations was a Soviet tactic: scaring Western publics can now be part of the same playbook.
“But the West cannot be sure, and official Russian statements and doctrines present the loss of Ukraine, bizarrely or not, as “existential”, which under Russian doctrine allows Russia to use nuclear and chemical weapons.
“Putin’s dreams of Ukraine rejoining Russia, breaking NATO and Russia leading an anti-Western global alliance are collapsing around him.
‘Disaster for the imploding Russian military may well wait, and at some point, the Ukrainian military will likely threaten to breach Russia’s land corridor linking Crimea to the Donbas.
“At that moment, Putin will make one of the most fateful decisions of the century: to use nuclear or chemical weapons. The United States must act now to minimize that threat and ensure the protection of the American public and America’s allies.”