Putin’s nuclear tsunami branded as 'brainless thinking'

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On May 9, Russia celebrates Victory Day to commemorate the country’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. James Nixey, director of the Russia-Eurasia Programme at Chatham House told CNN that the celebration is “designed to show off to the home crowd, to intimidate the opposition and to please the dictator of the time”. And according to weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, Russia could use this special day to send its most terrifying warning yet.

He told Express.co.uk: “The biggest concern is perhaps the use or direct threat of use of a tactical/battlefield nuclear weapon.

“If things are still going so badly on May 9, which is likely, Putin could decide that a nuke is the only way to change the shape of the war.

“Western leaders have been slightly ambiguous about what would happen if Putin used a tactical nuke.”

A tactical nuclear weapon differs from “strategic” nuclear weapons in that they can be used over relatively short distances.

“Tactical” refers to a wide range of weaponry, including smaller bombs and missiles that are considered “battlefield” weapons.

Strategic nukes on the other hand refer to the bombs that the US and the USSR threatened to use during the Cold War.

Mr de Bretton-Gordon urged the West to stand up to Russia to stop it from deploying any nuclear weapons.

He told Express.co.uk: “I think we need them to state very clearly that even a small nuclear weapon would lead to NATO directly targeting strategic Russian targets with sophisticated conventional weapons.

“These targets would be any nuclear launchers in or around Ukraine, command and control sites, basically making further Russian advances in Ukraine untenable.”

And he suggested that the move could be the final blow to put an end to the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

Mr de Bretton-Gordon told Express.co.uk: “For Putin, a tactical nuke could stop the war and bring all to the negotiating table and Russia could hang onto the southern area they now have.

“Many ‘hope’ that if Putin pressed the red button, there are people in the Kremlin who would then stand up and depose him.”

He called on the UK and US to do more.

Mr de Bretton-Gordon said: “Again, I would like to hear Boris Johnson and Joe Biden call out to those in the Kremlin, who may not be as hard-line as Putin, to oppose him to prevent him from using nukes.”

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And earlier this week, Russian state TV released a video simulating a Russian nuclear strike on three capital cities in Europe, declaring there would be “no survivors”.

Hosts on Channel One’s 60 Minutes programme claimed the cities of London, Paris and Berlin could be hit within 200 seconds of nuclear missiles being launched.

US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, spoke out against Putin’s nuclear threats on a visit to Kyiv earlier this week.

She said: “Let me just speak for myself. Do not be bullied by bullies. If they’re making threats you cannot back down.

“We’re there for the fight, and you cannot fold to a bully.”

But the Kremlin has ruled out that it will use Victory Day as an excuse to escalate the conflict.

On Wednesday, Moscow poured cold water on claims that Putin is planning officially declare war against Ukraine (it still calls it a special operation) and declare a national mobilisation on May 9.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “There is no chance of that. It’s nonsense.”

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