Commentary: Will Putin really press the nuclear button over Ukraine?

Aktual Indonesia - Is Russia now led by someone who would contemplate using nuclear weapons without any great concern? Over Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has dropped some pretty big hints that he is prepared to cross that strategic Rubicon.

Just days before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia and its ally Belarus engaged in nuclear exercises. In announcing the invasion itself, Putin pointedly referred to Russia’s standing as “one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world”. 

The Russian president seemed to reserve the nuclear option as a response to a “direct attack on our country”. 

But he warned ominously that those who try “to hinder us” in Ukraine could face “consequences greater than any you have faced in history”. Russia, it was feared, might also take preemptive measures. 

In his broadcast to the Russian people on Feb 21, Putin also suggested – falsely – that the Ukrainian leadership was seeking to obtain its own nuclear arms.

Anxieties over Putin’s intentions were raised further shortly after Russia’s invasion was launched. Russia’s nuclear forces, Putin declared on Feb 27, had been placed on high alert.

This, the Russian president claimed, was a response to “aggressive statements against our country” by “senior officials of leading NATO countries”. 

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