The West should ignore Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky said.
The Kremlin claimed it would resort to a nuclear conflict if Europe and the US expanded their supply of weapons and machinery to Ukraine.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelensky, told The Times: “Putin is not ready to push the red button,” as Russia understands the consequences.
This comes after military leaders announced that some 180,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the start of the war in Ukraine – a much higher estimate than previously thought.
The West should ignore Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky said. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, January 30, 2023
A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is tested as part of the Russian nuclear exercises from a launch site in Plesetsk, northwest Russia, October 26, 2022
Mykhailo Podolyak told The Times: “Any use of nuclear weapons, even tactical ones, will lead to the inevitable death of most of Russia’s political elite. They understand that very well.’
Podolyak said Russia understands the consequences if it were to launch a nuclear strike, whether against Ukraine or any Western ally. He said Moscow understands it faces “immediate retaliation” as other nuclear powers have sent a very “clear warning.”
As Western countries pledged to send weapons, including tanks, to Ukraine, Vyacheslav Volodin, a political ally of Putin and the speaker of Russia’s parliament, said the West risked a “terrible war.”
Western countries announced last week that they would send dozens of advanced tanks to Ukraine, including pledges from the US, Germany and the UK.
Volodin said last week: “Foreign politicians who make such decisions should understand that this could end in a global tragedy that will destroy their country.”
Former Russian Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev – who is now deputy chairman of Russia’s National Security Council – also warned that Moscow could use nuclear weapons if its army were defeated in Ukraine.
Mykhailo Podolyak told The Times: “Any use of nuclear weapons, even tactical ones, will lead to the inevitable death of most of Russia’s political elite. They understand that very well’
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelensky, told The Times: ‘Putin is not ready to push the red button’ as Russia understands the consequences
Russia recently tested its nuclear capabilities with a test on its hypersonic Zircon missile in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month.
Zelensky’s adviser told The Times: ‘The Russian political elite wants to frighten other countries, but at the same time they want to be guaranteed a life of luxury.
“I would recommend paying less attention to the comments of people like Volodin and Medvedev. Their goal is to sow panic in Europe.’
This comes after military leaders estimated that up to 180,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the war in Ukraine.
The Norwegian military’s estimate is much higher than previously thought.
Top US general Mark Milley suggested the toll was around 100,000 last November. It is unclear how many troops Ukraine has lost since the country was invaded on February 24, 2022. Both sides have a policy of not disclosing losses.
Vladimir Putin’s army is currently making a desperate attempt to seize territory before more than 300 Western tanks reach the war zone in Ukraine.
According to military leaders, up to 180,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Top US general Mark Milley suggested the toll of the Russian army was around 100,000 last November
Western officials said Russia was trying to replace lost troops with hundreds of thousands of reservists and a partial mobilization of civilians, including convicts. They admitted that Russia was making “creeping gains” in eastern Ukraine, but insisted that the Kremlin’s forces are not big enough to make a strategic breakthrough.
Putin’s partial mobilization has “semi-stabilized” the Russian frontline, which is making progress again after months of retreat and delay.
An official said: “Russia has had some tactical successes, but this is a ‘sideshow of a sideshow.’ Russia has more mass [than Ukraine] but it is unlikely that the reservists brought to the front lines formed into cohesive groups. Russia is trying to gain momentum, but its forces are falling short of the strategic tasks assigned to them.”
The official predicted that the “grinding conflict” is likely to continue this year.
About the influx of Western tanks, they said: “Russia is aware of timetables.” Ukraine is currently in a defensive position as it waits for the tanks.
Vladimir Putin’s army is currently making a desperate attempt to seize territory before more than 300 Western tanks reach the war zone in Ukraine
Most will be German-made Leopard 2s following a groundbreaking decision by Berlin to send tanks and lift export restrictions for NATO allies.
Other tanks include 14 Challenger 2s from Britain and 31 M1 Abrams from the US.
Ukrainian crews started training in the UK this week. At the end of March, the troops, accompanied by the British tanks, return to the country. They are already skilled tank drivers, but must adapt to the specific requirements of the Challenger 2.
In recent weeks, Russian troops have captured towns in Donetsk province. Their goal is to secure the strategically important city of Bakhmut.
Before the invasion, it had a population of 70,000. But civilians have fled the city as Russian troops approach the city.
Ukraine could be forced to withdraw from Bakhmut – a move that would deal a major blow to the country’s morale.
A Western official said, “Bakhmut is totemic in the public narrative, which puts pressure on both sides. But military judgment will have to be exercised.
We are not going to speculate on the outcome. In the past, Ukraine has been wise in choosing the timing of withdrawals as they redraw their defense lines. Territories will be exchanged and the conflict will not end anytime soon.”