Vladimir Putin has made a number of statements that can be taken as threats to use nuclear weapons. He reminds us that Russia has nuclear weapons. The statements are ambiguous, but, in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine, can be taken as threats. Let’s look more closely at those statements.
At the beginning of the war, there was a cluster of statements: February 24 and 27, and March 5 and 16. Then a statement in the middle of April, and then a jump to June, and another jump to September and October. During the summer, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was under attack, which kept nuclear fears in the news.
No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history. No matter how the events unfold, we are ready. All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken.
This statement is stronger than the customary US statement “all options are on the table” and has the tone of Donald Trump’s statements to North Korea about possible nuclear use.
Vladimir Putin is throwing it all against the wall today. Today’s statement includes that Ukraine has become an instrument of US foreign policy, has practically lost its sovereignty, its territory has been turned into a testing ground for biological experiments, and now it is being pumped up with weapons. I think that included nuclear weapons. Moar:
Putin has used nuclear fear since the beginning of his war. He started with threats when he declared war on February 24.
No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.
Update 10/25/2022:I’ve added an April 20 quote at the suggestion of François Heisbourg and September 30 from Gene Dannen. Thanks to both.
As we try to decipher Sergey Shoigu’s phonecalls to the Defense Ministers of the US, UK, and France, I decided to look at the threats Vladimir Putin has made since February 24. I combed through all his speeches on the President of Russia website, and this is what I found. Let me know if I’ve missed something. I have left out threats by others like Dmitri Medvedev and the Russian tv brigade.
I’ve included context with each quote, and you can link back to the speeches to find further context.
I would now like to say something very important for those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside. No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history. No matter how the events unfold, we are ready. All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken. I hope that my words will be heard.
Motivating a ceasefire is difficult. A warring party who feels they are doing well may want to continue their run, or they may want a ceasefire to consolidate their gains. A losing party may not want to allow those gains, or they may be losing so badly they have no choice.
Currently in Russia’s war against Ukraine, there are rumors that Russia wants a ceasefire. Ukraine is making gains on the ground and does not want a ceasefire. Russia may be running out of precision missiles and wants to restock or rethink.
Besides the military situation, Russia’s history of torture and killing of civilians in the occupied areas motivates Ukraine to take back as much of their territory as possible. A ceasefire would stop the battlefield killing and destruction of cities, the destruction we can see, but Russian atrocities in occupied zones would likely continue.
Then there are both sides’ conditions for a ceasefire. Russia’s seem to be that Ukraine submit to everything Russia wants before talks start. Ukraine has not put forth terms recently. It doesn’t look like there will be a ceasefire any time soon unless outside parties can intervene.
Reporter: Here’s my idea. This group at the University of Chicago is working on quantum computing, and they have the coolest setup in a basement closet. So this Einstein-grade science in a humble beginning. Great photos of equipment with lots of wires. Starting from nothing. Make computers unhackable.
Editor: Wow, so great! Ties in with that Nobel Prize for quantum something. At the forefront of one of the world’s hottest technology competitions.
I have disliked the phrase “nuclear blackmail” since I first saw it. What it usually describes is not blackmail. Last night I figured it out.
It’s a nuclear protection racket. The phrase is harder to shorten, so it probably won’t be picked up by the media, but I would like to see analysts recognize the difference.
Blackmail is the demand for something of value to prevent information from becoming public. Protection is the demand for something of value to prevent damage. Further, the information in blackmail is something that the person being threatened does not want to come out. This is a significant difference. In blackmail, the victim’s actions or attitudes are part of the dynamic. Protection is a bullying demand without cause.
The popular expression of protection in this case would be “Nice world you got there. Too bad if something happened to it.” And, in Putin’s case, the demand is not clear, so he’s likely to keep upping it.
In addition to Vladimir Putin’s geographical ambitions, a renewed Russian Empire must be feared by the world. That is what it means to be an empire.
Putin is not getting the response he wants.
He’s been trying to spread fear through his nuclear threats, both those against the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and his and his associates’ talk about nuclear weapons. But the West is not cowering in fear.
There is no physical indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons. Preparations will be observed by governments and other folks who are watching. Russia’s actions at the Zaporizhzhia plant seem to be designed to avoid the worst outcomes so that they can steal the plant for the Russian electrical grid.
The tactical purpose of the fear-mongering is to convince Ukraine and its supporters to back off. That hasn’t worked.