- Vladimir Putin on Wednesday escalated his war in Ukraine, directly threatening nuclear war.
- But experts say the threat shows Putin has run out of military options.
- Putin is increasingly “realizing how limited his actual military options are,” one expert said.
Vladimir Putin on Wednesday threatened to use nuclear weapons to blatantly escalate his war in Ukraine.
But according to experts, the Russian president’s bold warning was less a show of legitimate strength than a sign that the Russian military was faltering.
On Wednesday, more than seven months after the war broke out, Putin announced a partial military mobilization to address manpower issues in Russia’s recent string of victories in Ukraine. In a televised speech, the president also baselessly accused the West of threatening the use of nuclear weapons and acknowledged that Russia has its own nuclear arsenal.
“For those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has all kinds of means of sabotage and is in some ways more modern than NATO countries,” he said.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will do everything possible to protect Russia and our people. This is not bluff.”
Putin’s nuclear threat is an intimidation tactic against Ukrainian allies.
Amid mounting military losses, deteriorating troop morale and shifting public sentiment, why Putin is turning to his The warhead makes sense. Soviet relations.
“The Russian military’s poor performance on the Ukrainian battlefield is a reminder that any great-power status Russia may have depends almost entirely on its nuclear arsenal,” Myers said.
Myers believes Putin’s message is also aimed at Ukraine’s global supporters.
“Putin has repeatedly tried and failed to break the resolve of his Ukrainian supporters, and his latest threats were no exception,” Myers said. “It is clear that he is increasingly aware of how limited his actual military options are in this war.”
Earlier this month, Ukraine scored one of its biggest victories to date, launching two simultaneous offensives in the northeast and south. Effective efforts to recover occupied territories. Reports from the front show that the Russian army has capitulated under the strong performance of the Russian army in Ukraine.
“Russians are apathetic, disorganized, unmotivated, and just want to live,” Robert English, a professor at USC who studies Russia, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, told Insider. “Ukrainian fighting spirit and the U.S. arms industry join forces to prevent [Putin’s] big plan. “
The outlook for Russia remains grim, especially given continued Western military support for Ukraine. The country’s most recent offensive, although carried out by Ukrainian forces, has benefited from U.S. and British intelligence, strategy and weapons.
“As long as the West provides more and better weapons—and we are providing more and better weapons—the pressure on the Russian military will only increase,” English said.
Experts believe Putin is unlikely to act on his threats.
Putin’s threat to “civilization-annihilation capabilities,” as Myers puts it, doesn’t mean the U.S. or any other Ukrainian ally should turn around and run.
“It’s one thing to make a threat — it’s another thing to actually use these weapons in a way that serves Kremlin goals,” Myers said.
Russia’s display of nuclear weapons is unlikely to break the West’s will, he said, and may even strengthen it further. At the same time, the use of weapons in Ukraine would itself have devastating consequences for Ukrainian troops — but Russian soldiers fighting in the country would also pay a price.
Multiple experts have previously told Insider that Russia is unlikely to use nuclear weapons, even if it poses a threat. Myers added that logistics alone de-risk the outlook.
“Russian nuclear weapons are staged in fortified refuges across the country, including in the far west near Ukraine,” he said. “Transitioning to a ready, warhead-to-delivery platform will bring a wealth of observables to the U.S. intelligence community and give Washington an opportunity to make clear to the Kremlin how bad this idea is.”