Putin ‘ratchets things up’ says expert

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The Russian President is reportedly incredibly close to pushing the red button as his army is seriously struggling to fend off a defeat in the war in Ukraine, an expert has told Express.co.uk. The latest act of provocation with the West came after blasts to Russian pipelines in the Baltic Sea triggered major gas leaks in waters covering both Sweden and Denmark. It is widely agreed that this was deliberate sabotage, with many pointing the finger at Moscow even though the Nord Stream 1 and 2 systems were designed to bring Russian gas to Germany via its Baltic Sea route. 

Ukrainian presidential advisor, Mykhaylo Podolyak has gone so far as to call it “a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU”, carried out “to destabilise the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic”. 

But Russia has denied any involvement, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov even calling for an investigation into who caused the sabotage, claiming to be “very concerned” by the news. This is despite the fact that Russian warships and submarines were seen in the waters near the leaks prior to the incident, which has been confirmed via satellite images. 

Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a nuclear expert from Cambridge University, says Russia’s denial is yet one more piece of evidence that points to the fact that Vladimir Putin is “clinging on by his fingernails” and will “say anything” to justify launching a nuclear attack. 

He told Express.co.uk: “I think only the Russians are trying to say it’s not them and I would be staggered if they did not blame somebody else.

“I think Putin is clinging on by his fingernails and will say anything to justify whatever he does to stave off defeat in Ukraine. Add this to the forced annexation of 4 regions and we are getting closer to when and where Putin thinks he can use nuclear weapons.” 

This comes after Putin sent a chilling warning to the West earlier this month, claiming that he is “not bluffing” about being ready to launch a nuclear attack. 

The Russian leader said in a speech on national television: “The territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured, I will emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. 

“Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”

And with 6,000 nuclear warheads in Russia’s terrifying arsenal, the largest on Earth, the Kremlin clearly has a vast array of powerful missiles to choose from. 

Mr de Bretton Gordon is also not the only expert who does not deem Putin’s terrifying rhetoric to simply consist of empty threats.

Tony Brenton, a former British ambassador to Russia, told Reuters back in August: “If the choice for Russia is fighting a losing war, and losing badly and Putin falling, or some kind of nuclear demonstration, I wouldn’t bet that they wouldn’t go for the nuclear demonstration.” 

And Western leaders do not appear to be taking the threat lightly either. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, responding to Putin’s warning: “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.”

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Given the current climate, tensions are arguably reaching their hottest since the conflict first began six months ago. And amid threats of nuclear warfare, Prime Minister Liz Truss has also signalled that she would not be averse to pushing the red button if push came to shove, even if it resulted in “global annihilation”.

However, she did not seem so convinced by Putin’s nuclear threats, snubbing his comments as merely “bogus claims”. 

She said: “This morning we have seen Putin trying to justify his catastrophic failures. He is doubling down by sending even more reservists to a terrible fate. He is desperately trying to claim the mantle of democracy for a regime without human rights or freedoms. And he is making yet more bogus claims and sabre-rattling threats. This will not work.”

Ms Truss also said during her UN speech earlier this month:  “And authoritarian states are undermining stability and security around the world. Geopolitics is entering a new era – one that requires those who believe in the founding principles of the United Nations to stand up and be counted.”

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