Will Putin's game of chicken lead to nuclear war?text_fields
With no clear end to the Ukraine crisis in sight, it seems no experts worth their salt can rule out Russian President pressing nuclear buttons to shock Europe and the US.
A new round of nuclear threats are thick in the air as Russian forces are struggling into eight months of invading Ukraine, while losing captured areas to Ukrainian forces.
Up until now, the US and European leadership believed that nuclear threats were purely rhetorical; however, analysts are not yet sure about Putin's future plans, whether he would prepare for a showdown, or keep the threats alive just to intimidate Ukraine.
A report by Bloomberg says that Russia's long-range missiles and bombers are kept on constant alert, ever ready to fire before they get destroyed in pre-emptive strike.
It added that lower-yielding tactical weapons are stored in about a dozen warehouses across Russia and it would take time to transport them to launchers.
Russia is facing serious setbacks at battlefront after Ukrainian forces increased the intensity of counteroffensive.
Russian forces are increasingly losing ground, which they previously boasted as captured, to Ukraine—most interestingly, only last week Putin claimed some areas in Ukraine as his own. But shortly later Russian forces were vainly fighting to retain the places.
Now Russia is sowing fear hinting at further escalation of war using arms that haven't been used in war since 1945 - meaning nuclear weapons.
According to Pavel Podvig, a nuclear security expert at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, Russia has moved its weapons out of storage facilities to some other locations, showing a certain of level of readiness.
Russia's threats, according to the report, are to intimidate the US and Europe into cutting support for Ukraine and forcing Kyiv into negotiations on Moscow's terms.
Putin is trying to create divisions within Europe turning public opinions against authorities in the face of worsening energy crisis after Russia cut gas supplies to Europe.
Meanwhile, President Putin is trying to shore up Russia's army by calling up 300,000 reservists, showing that he is committed to fight to the finish.
Explosions in Balti Sea last week caused leak to pipelines undersea which the US described as "deliberate sabotage, aimed at fueling alarm that the continent's energy infrastructure is vulnerable.