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What if Putin presses the nuclear “button”?

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Vladimir Putin’s address to the Russian people, which was broadcast on Wednesday morning, left a clear threat to Western countries: “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will definitely use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia” and our people. “The use of nuclear weapons is a scenario that Putin has been talking about since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Moscow’s decision to launch a nuclear strike would be an unprecedented situation. For this reason, it is difficult to predict how an attack will be carried out or what its main targets will be. Even in the face of all the unpredictability, as explained Telegraphanalysts who follow Russian nuclear rhetoric have outlined several possible scenarios.

One possibility is that Putin decides to continue nuclear strikes against limited targets located in Ukraine. According to Lawrence Friedman, a specialist in military studies at King’s College London, critical infrastructure in cities could be a potential target.

If Putin wanted to sow fear in Ukraine and the West, he could also point to Snake Island, a mythical island where a small group of Ukrainians faced the Russian fleet, a nuclear attack that demonstrates Russia’s might. This option, the expert believes, could lead to a humiliating situation if the bomb did not explode for some reason.

According to Andrey Baklitsky, a specialist at the UN Disarmament Research Institute, there is a detail in Putin’s speech that suggests a different scenario: the Russian president said he would promote nuclear weapons only “if the territorial integrity” of Russia is “compromised.” “. The announcement comes as Russia prepares to hold annexation referendums in Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk and Lugansk.

“These statements go beyond the Russian nuclear doctrine, which only suggests that Russia is the first to use it in a conventional war, when the very existence of the state is threatened,” experts explain.

After holding referendums in the Ukrainian regions, Moscow could regard the offensive actions of the Kyiv forces to return the territory as a pretext for launching a nuclear offensive.

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Can a threat be a bluff?

Putin emphasized that the use of nuclear weapons “it’s not a bluff”, but most Western leaders do not seem to be very worried about this possibility. Also because this is not the first time the Russian president has used the nuclear arsenal as a threat to Europe and the United States.

A few days after the invasion of Ukraine began, Putin ordered Western countries to interfere in the achievement of Russian goals.will suffer consequences they could never have imagined in their history“.

Russian propaganda networks themselves have also shared threats of nuclear annihilation against Western countries. Just this week, TV presenter Olga Skabeeva said that Moscow should have launched an attack during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London in order to create as much chaos as possible.

Some leaders have already vowed to be ready to “press the nuclear button” if the Russian threat materializes. Liz Truss, Prime Minister of Great Britain, admitted that she could have made such a decision during her reign. Joe Biden also believes that Putin’s use of nuclear weaponscompletely change the war to something not seen since WWII“.

There is an article in the NATO Treaty that states that an attack on one country is an attack on all – the famous Article 5. Even if Russia decides to send nuclear weapons to the territory of Ukraine, the radiation can reach Poland – a NATO country – and start the activation process of this article. However, this decision must be unanimous. In the entire history of NATO, it was activated only once: after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

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A nuclear strike could also put Russia in an even lonelier position than it is now. While the Western countries sanctioned Moscow and publicly rejected the invasion, China and India remained neutral from the very beginning of the invasion. However, both countries are beginning to seek to distance themselves from the conflict.

This Wednesday, after Putin’s speech, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called for a ceasefire through dialogue to end the conflict. The statements show some dissatisfaction on the part of China with the possibility that Russia decides to go nuclear.

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Nord Stream: Anthony Blinken called Putin’s accusations about the pipeline “absurd and outrageous”

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“I have nothing to add to these absurd statements by President Putin that we or our allied partners are somehow responsible for this,” Blinken said at a press conference.

The head of the US diplomatic mission once again condemned the “scandalous disinformation campaign” of Russia.

At the conference, along with his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly, the American said he did not intend to prejudge the “ongoing investigation” into the origin of the explosions that led to leaks in gas pipelines, but assured that he was in “close contact with the Europeans on this issue.

The head of the Russian state today, during his speech in the Kremlin after the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, accused Western representatives of being behind the “explosions” that caused large leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines built for transporting Russian gas towards Europe.

“By organizing explosions on international gas pipelines crossing the bottom of the Baltic Sea, they actually began to destroy the European energy infrastructure,” he condemned, attributing this “sabotage” to the “Anglo-Saxons”.

Vladimir Putin also stressed that the United States is “pressing” on European countries so that they completely stop Russian gas supplies “in order to capture the European market.”

Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the European Union (EU) and NATO said this week that the Nord Stream leaks were due to “deliberate acts” and “sabotage”.

For its part, the Kremlin called “meaningless and absurd” European accusations that Russia could be held responsible for the damage found in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.

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Ukraine on Tuesday blamed Russia for the pipeline leak, condemning a “terrorist attack” against the European Union (EU).

The first Nord Stream, capable of pumping 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, was halted after Russia claimed an oil leak at the only Russian compressor station still in operation.

On the other hand, Nord Stream 2 was never put into operation due to the blockade of infrastructure by Berlin even before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

However, both pipelines are filled with gas and therefore must maintain a stable pressure.

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“Victory will be ours!” Putin assured on Red Square

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“Victory will be ours!” shouted the President of Russia to the applause of a crowd of thousands.

“Welcome home!” – Putin said, addressing the residents of the annexed Ukrainian territories, believing that they “returned to their historical homeland.”

“Russia does not just open the doors of its home to people, it opens its heart,” he said from a stage specially installed on the symbolic square near the Kremlin wall (the residence of the President of Russia).

Many Russian flags fluttered among the crowd in attendance, and some people also wore black and orange striped St. George ribbons, an old tsarist military award that became a symbol of the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Several giant screens and a powerful sound system were also installed so that people could follow the speech of the President of Russia and the performance of various Russian pop stars who performed on stage.

The Russian head of state, in power for 22 years, referred to a “special, historic day of truth and justice” at a time when Russian soldiers are “heroically defending the people’s choice” in Ukraine, he said.

“We will do everything to support our brothers and sisters in Zaporozhye, Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk, improve their security, restart the economy, restore,” he also said, hours after signing the annexation of these four Ukrainian regions, in a ceremony in the Kremlin.

After this symbolic act in the Kremlin, which was a new step in his war against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a neighboring country, Putin defended his mantra with a raised microphone that Russia created modern Ukraine.

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“I can’t help but remember how the Soviet Union was formed. It was Russia that created modern Ukraine, transferring significant territories there, the historical territories of Russia itself along with the population,” Putin said.

“We are stronger because we are together. The truth is with us, and there is strength,” Putin said, adding once again: “Then victory will be ours!”

Kyiv and its Western allies have widely condemned such an annexation, with NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a Western defense bloc) classifying it as “illegitimate” and the countries of the European Union (EU) and the G7 (a group of the most industrialized countries in the world : Germany, Canada, USA, France, Italy, Japan and the UK) declared that they would “never recognize [tais] alleged annexations.

Putin has no intention of visiting the four Ukrainian regions now annexed by Moscow in the midst of a military conflict with Kyiv, a Kremlin spokesman said.

“Not yet, because at the moment there is a lot of work ahead, but this will definitely happen after some time,” said Dmitry Peskov, who was quoted by Russian news agencies and asked about the possibility of such a visit.

The four occupied regions of Ukraine, whose annexation treaties Putin signed today, make up about 15% of Ukraine’s territory – Donetsk and Lugansk (which he had already recognized as independent republics shortly before the invasion of Ukraine), Kherson and Zaporozhye (which hosts the largest nuclear power plant in Europe). ).

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine has already caused the flight of more than 13 million people – more than six million internally displaced people and more than 7.5 million to European countries – according to the latest UN figures, which rank this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945).

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The Russian invasion, justified by Putin as the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community as a whole, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions against Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed since the beginning of the war, which entered its 219th day today, 5,996 civilians killed and 8,848 wounded, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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EU Agreement on Excess Profit Tax and Energy Savings

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This Friday in Brussels, European Union energy ministers reached an agreement on emergency intervention in the face of rising energy prices, which includes a solidarity contribution to the exceptional profits of companies in the energy sector.

The regulation, proposed this month by the Commission and given political approval this Friday 27, provides for a 33 percent tax on excessive profits from fossil fuel companies, to be converted into a “solidarity contribution” to be redistributed to the most vulnerable, a profit ceiling companies producing low-cost (renewable) electricity, and plans to reduce electricity consumption, voluntary (10% for total demand) and mandatory (5% during “peak hours”).

“Agreement! The ministers reached a political agreement on measures to reduce high electricity prices: a mandatory reduction in electricity demand, limiting the market revenues of over-marginal electricity producers and solidarity contributions from fossil fuel producers,” announced the current Czech Presidency of the Council. EU.

At the meeting, represented by Portugal’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Duarte Cordeiro, 27 countries will discuss policy options to reduce high gas prices, but no decision is expected today despite a large group of 15 member states. , including Portugal, demanded a “ceiling” on gas prices.

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