President Vladimir Putin’s recent order to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert amid fear of neo-Nazis in Ukraine may force President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in using nuclear weapon against Russia has sparked panic that this situation may result in nuclear war or a third world war. Although Russia and the United States have the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, with Ukrainian nuclear weapons been in the grips of neo-Nazis pose serious threat for the entire world.
In the past few days, Ploughshares Fund has produced two timely podcast episodes on the crisis in Ukraine. In the first, Ploughshares President Dr. Emma Belcher spoke with Dr. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, a professor at the University of Oslo and a member of the Oslo Nuclear Project, on how this crisis can escalate into nuclear warfare. In the second, host Tom Collina broke down the meaning of Russia’s raised nuclear alert level with Jon Wolfsthal, Global Zero’s Senior Advisor.
What exactly does the increased nuclear alert level mean? According to Wolfsthal, this relates to changes in Russia’s personnel readiness. While the heightened alert may ultimately be considered a more symbolic decision, the fact that President Putin is willing to transmit this signal to the world—that the possibility of nuclear use is not out of the equation—reinforces the concern that nuclear war is not an impossibility in this current crisis.
According to analysts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is under increased pressure from the Azov Battalion, a notorious neo-Nazi group, which may ultimately lead to Zelenskyy resorting to firing nuclear weapons targeting Kremlin and other strategic areas in Moscow.
Meanwhile, according to a source, several members of the Azov Battalion special unit are already in Russia looking for targets including President Vladimir Putin, members of his cabinet, high-ranking military officials and also several wealthy individuals in the country. They may also target members of Russian media and financial institutions.
The source said, Russian military is already on an advantageous position in Ukraine and literally Russia is winning the war. Once such operations successfully continue for few more days or weeks, Ukrainian side may opt for nuclear option, as members of the Azov Battalion won’t allow Moscow’s victory or any peaceful settlement between Kiev and Moscow.
In line with this paradox, Russia believes that it can succeed in Ukraine without military action from the United States, as the risk of nuclear conflict is too high. At the same time, the United States believes it can provide military aid to Ukraine without Russian retaliation due to the increased nuclear risk it would create. However, when the nuclear threshold is broken, the paradox breaks as well, and both the United States and Russia may find themselves in an escalating vortex that will be very difficult to escape. In this case, for Russia, President Zelenskyy’s too much dependence on the Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi forces in the country is a matter of serious security concern.
Zelenskyy dominates media over Putin
Although Russia has huge advantage in military and nuclear might, Ukrainians and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are clearly dominating the media and been able to use the news and social media against Kremlin. In this case, Russian side is extremely weak, as they only have to mainly depend on its official news agency TASS, which has been mainly catering very brief news items, without any detailed commentary or video clips.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev dedicated his first post on Telegram to the West’s unprecedented pressure on Russia.
“The West’s flagrant hatred of Russia will apparently never hit rock bottom. NATO’s expansion towards our borders, an all-out economic and information war against our country, non-stop threats and intimidation attempts and the fierce persecution of our citizens overseas are the reason for the extreme rise in international tensions that the world is going through,” the Russian Security Council’s deputy chairman wrote. He lashed out at Western nations’ behavior towards Russia saying it was “disgusting, nefarious and immoral” in recent years.
According to Medvedev, the collective West “did not care about Russia becoming a strong power again, capable of ensuring its interests and protecting its citizens abroad”. “They have an urgent need to corner our country, bring it to its knees and reform it based on the Anglo-Saxon world’s blueprints, to make it weak and obedient, or better yet, to tear it to pieces”, Medvedev pointed out when speaking about the West’s intentions. “It won’t work. Russia is strong enough to put all of its brazen enemies in their place”, he added.
“We genuinely sought good relations with them. We defeated Nazism together in the 20th century and agreed on universal rules of security and cooperation. But now, the West’s double standards should not surprise anyone. They turn a blind eye to everything they don’t want to see, including the extermination of civilians in Donbass, which has lasted for years. If anything fails to go according to their plans, our country is the one to blame”, Medvedev emphasized.
He stressed that Russia would continue to fight for a world order that suited the country and our people, “free of Nazi thugs, historical lies and genocide”.
“Just like before, we have moral strength and historical truth on our side”, he stated.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing, the West is turning a blind eye to Ukraine’s atrocities against civilians in Donbass.
“Once again we see sheer apathy from the West. They zealously ignored and remained silent over yet another atrocity by their Ukrainian subordinates. As if nothing had happened. As if there was no mass slaughter of civilians”, she stressed.
Zakharova spotlighted the March 14 attack on Donetsk, when the Ukrainian military fired a Tochka-U rocket with cluster munition into the city center, killing more than 20 people and wounding 37 others. “This is a barbaric terrorist act”, she emphasized, adding that Russia deeply resents the methods that the Ukrainians have resorted to when conducting hostilities.
The diplomatic spokeswoman also highlighted the fact that this type of weaponry was used repeatedly by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Makeyevka. “Thanks to the coordinated work of the Donetsk People’s Republic militia, it was possible to avoid horrific consequences. Fortunately, no one was killed then, but civilians, including children, were injured”, she noted.