Saturday, May 18, 2024

Putin warned China will rip up alliance if Russia follows through with threat

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Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that tactical nuclear weapons are on the table for use in Ukraine. This week, Russia started preparations for missile drills near Ukraine simulating the use of these tactical nuclear missiles in response to “threats” by Western officials.

Tactical nuclear weapons are small nuclear warheads intended for use on the battlefield, or for a limited strike. They are designed to destroy enemy targets without causing widespread radioactive fallout.

However, a senior European official has warned that the Kremlin risks blowing up his alliance with China if he follows through on the threat.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told BBC‘s HardTalk interview programme that the Russian leader was bluffing about the possibility of using nuclear weapons.

The BBC‘s Stephen Sackur pointed out that Russia remained the “most powerful nuclear state”.

When asked whether Europe should simply “ignore” President Putin’s nuclear threats, Mr Landsbergis said: “Can we count the number of times he has done this in the past? It is a number of times. It’s always a bluff.

“He has nothing to gain from this, but everything to lose. Some countries are on his side, or he thinks so. China is clearly supporting Russia, and global partners in Latin America and Africa are also more likely to be on Putin’s side.

“But if the threats become a reality, the whole partnership will disappear in an instant.”

He later tweeted a clip of the interview, adding: “Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons many times, but it’s always a bluff. He has nothing to gain from nuclear war, he has everything to lose. When his empty threats make us back down, he escalates anyway. Every time. That’s the reality of de-escalation.”

Mr Landsbergis warned that the slow delivery of Western aid was sabotaging Ukrainian hopes and sending the wrong signal to President Putin.

The diplomat said: “It can lead to a real conflict already outside Ukraine, and other countries can be involved. Because we are sending a very clear signal to Putin: if you threaten us, we will retreat. We have to ask, if Putin attacks another country and threatens tactical nukes, what would we do?”

He argued that deploying NATO troops in Ukraine should “never be ruled out,” adding: “Lithuania will be a part of any coalition that will help Ukraine win.”

This comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Chinese President Xi Jinping to lean on its ally Russia.

She said: “We count on China to use all its influence on Russia to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. President Xi has played an important role in de-escalating Russia’s irresponsible nuclear threats, and I am confident that President Xi will continue to do so against the backdrop of ongoing nuclear threats by Russia.”

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