Desperate and afraid Putin ramps up nuclear threats as Ukraine makes gains

Ukraine’s slow but successful counter-offensive and Russia’s inability to overpower an army smaller than its own is leaving Vladimir Putin “afraid”, one commentator said.

And his fear is being expressed by one of his closest allies through threats of nuclear destruction, according to US military correspondent David Axe.

Mr Axe referred to the latest chilling message issued by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, on the day Moscow was celebrating Navy Day.

In an op-ed for the Telegraph, Mr Axe argued Mr Medvedev is Putin’s mouthpiece, used to issue ultimatums the Russian leader can’t quite deliver himself.

He wrote: “It’s Putin’s fear that feeds his worst impulse: to threaten, through Medvedev, the nuclear annihilation of human civilisation.”

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He added: “The virtual destruction of the only sentient species we know to exist anywhere in the vast cosmos.

“Make no mistake, when Medvedev says Russia might use nuclear weapons – as he did again on July 30 – he’s saying that Putin is saying that ending everything is a better outcome, for Russia, than losing a regional war of choice.”

Last month, Mr Medvedev rekindled the fear among the international community Russia may press the red button by writing on Twitter: “By repelling the collective enemy’s counteroffensive, our Armed Forces are defending Russian citizens and our land.

“It is quite clear to all decent people. Besides that, they are preventing global conflict.”

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The former Russian President went on to say that, if the “NATO-supported” Ukrainian counter-offensive was successful and “took away a part of our land”, there would be “simply no other way out” but to use a nuclear weapon.

Speaking about “our land”, Mr Medvedev didn’t appear to refer to the Russian borders but to the four Ukrainian regions annexed in September 2022 by Moscow amid an international outcry.

Mr Axe believes Mr Medvedev is “bluffing”. He continued: “Because he and his boss are afraid and because the bluff is all they have left as Russia’s disastrous wider war grinds into its 18th month, with no sign that Ukraine or its allies are giving up.

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“If he weren’t bluffing, we’d know. We’d know because we – well, a vanishing few of us, maybe – would already be living in an irradiated post-apocalyptic wasteland.”

The counter-offensive launched by Ukraine in early June has seen Volodymyr Zelensky’s army pushing slowly but surely against the Russian defences on the eastern and southern frontline.

The counter-offensive has seen the Ukrainian army gaining back several villages, and the country’s secret service has launched two successful attacks via seaborne drones in recent days that managed to hit two Russian ships in the Black Sea.

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