Headline RoundupSeptember 24th, 2022

Putin’s Nuclear Threats: Serious Warning or Desperate Bluff?

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Away from the front lines of the Ukrainian-Russian war, a bloody conflict that has demonstrated both the strength of Ukrainian national identity and the vast overestimation of Russia’s military capabilities, a war of words is taking place among world leaders. Moscow’s forces have failed to overthrow the Kyiv government in an invasion initially predicted to last weeks, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his determination to win the war that his regime sees as an existential battle for the survival of the Russian state. Some fear that this mentality could mean employing any tools at Putin's disposal to ensure his survival, up to and including nuclear weapons.

This past week, Putin announced a partial mobilization of the country to bolster and reinforce the faltering invasion force. At this moment, referendums are being held in Russian-occupied Ukrainian lands to vote on joining the Russian Federation. Western leaders have denounced the legitimacy of the voting, and reports from the occupied regions indicate the referendums are being conducted under less-than-democratic circumstances. Regardless of legitimacy, Russia has indicated it will formally annex the regions if they vote in favor. In the eyes of Moscow, this would mean Ukrainian troops are fighting on “Russian” soil, meeting Putin’s previously stated justification for using nuclear weapons, as outlined by Newsweek (Center Bias).

Outlets across the spectrum are analyzing the actions and rhetoric of Moscow to determine if Putin’s threats are a warning of nuclear escalation or simply fiery words from an isolated state.

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