Putin has rallied Russians yet again on how powerful a potential nuclear strike could be if Ukraine will not back down during his discourse with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Russian president said that, just like in Hiroshima, nuclear attacks prove that “you don’t need to attack major cities in order to end a war.” For the past two months, Ukraine has accused Russia of threatening them with nuclear weapons, but Moscow has continued to deny this while they point the fingers back at Kyiv for allegedly using “radioactive dirty bomb” in their offensive.

According to The Mail, the French government was left “distinctly alarmed” after the call.”

“It sounded like a very heavy hint that Putin might detonate a tactical nuclear weapon in the east of Ukraine, while leaving Kyiv in tact. That appeared to be the thrust of his remarks.”

The source added: “The two presidents have undoubtedly discussed the risk of nuclear weapons use. Putin wants to get the message across that all options are on the table, in line with Russian doctrine relating to nuclear weapons.”

RS-24 Yars
Transport and launch containers of the RS-24 Yars complexes during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. (Source: Presidential Press and Information Office/Wikimedia)

Meanwhile, SOFREP and SOFREP Editor-in-Chief Sean Spoonts have been speculating around Russian nuclear threats. If Putin really does decide to hit that big red button, it would not make sense to use this against Ukraine particularly. Russia is looking to get Ukraine as part of the Motherland. If it’s all destroyed to smithereens, there are no people, no land to govern.

“We also tried to imagine a circumstance where Russia gives sovereign recognition to the seized territories of Luhansk and Donbas and at the behest of these puppet governments, Russia uses a nuclear weapon inside these territories to destroy Ukrainian forces. They could deny it was a use of nuclear weapons on Ukraine but on the soil of these two ‘new’ countries. Not that anyone in the world but Russia would go for it. Today though we see Russia holding sham referendums to incorporate these two regions into the Russian Federation to give them status now as Russian territory.”

This could also be why Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky’s having a hard time giving Russia space in negotiations. As they continue to liberate more cities, with Russian forces obviously thinning, there is no way they could agree to Russia claiming Crimea and the other four regions back as their own.

“These continued nuclear threats could be seen in two ways, first as a bluff meant to undermine Western support for the Ukrainians and second as a way of testing the US and NATO’s resolve to retaliate. Of the two, the one we should most concern ourselves with is the possibility of Putin trying to determine what the consequences might be if he did employ such a weapon,” SOFREP notes.

Volodymyr Zelensky
President of Ukraine had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel. (Source: Кабінет Міністрів України/Wikimedia)

However, being too stringent on negotiations can cost Ukraine its allies, as the US reportedly asked Zelensky to at least take things into consideration. According to Washington Post, this “nudge” is not to push Ukraine “to the negotiating table,  “but ensuring it maintains a moral high ground in the eyes of its international backers.” The reported US officials said this is a “calculated” strategy so Kyiv can maintain trust with its allies. There have already been conversations within US Congress about continued support for Ukraine. Though the Biden administration has pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” the economic toll of the war is being felt on an international level. There are also the triggers of a possible nuclear war.

“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” said one US official who, like others interviewed for Washington Post, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations between Washington and Kyiv.

Experts are chiming in, too. Veteran diplomat Alexander Vershbow, who used to be the US ambassador to Russia, said that the US should be more active in finding a timeline for the end of this war.

“If the conditions become more propitious for negotiations, I don’t think the administration is going to be passive,” Vershbow said. “But it is ultimately the Ukrainians doing the fighting, so we’ve got to be careful not to second-guess them.”

Back in February, Ukraine still had a neutrality plan for peace talks with Russia, but as the months went on and the world continues to witness Russian aggression, Kyiv has tightened their stance on this draft deal.

“If Russia wins, we will get a period of chaos: flowering of tyranny, wars, genocides, nuclear races,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Friday. “Any ‘concessions’ to Putin today — a deal with the Devil. You won’t like its price.”