Nearing eight months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the entire world is still tense with anticipation. As the conflict escalates on the battlefield, so does the information war. Speculations about an approaching atomic conflict have recently been fuelled by Russian authorities' discussions about the possibilities of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
In September, Vladimir Putin asserted that Russia would "use all available means" to protect its people and integrity. He declared his statement "not a bluff," forcing people worldwide to face a severe danger of a global atomic conflict.
Sergey Shoigu, Russian Defence Minister, has recently contacted NATO officials from Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, and the US to talk about Ukraine's alleged plan to employ a so-called "dirty bomb, spiked with radioactive material on its own territories in order to frame Russian military forces. Putin himself confirmed these allegations. However, no evidence of such a plan has, so far, been found.
On November 1, Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, expressed his concern about Ukraine provoking a global conflict that will eventually involve many other parties. Medvedev claimed that in the case of Russia's loss, Ukraine would tear its occupied territories away from Russia, directly threatening its sovereignty. It is a "direct reason for the application of Clause 19 of the Basic Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrance." Clause 19 mentions the possibility of employing nuclear weapons as a defence method in case of a direct threat to the country's existence, which Medvedev declares to be the case if Ukraine wins. Earlier threats from Russian authorities have thus been confirmed and strengthened on Medvedev's Telegram channel, as he suggests a real possibility of a Third World War.
In turn, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, deems Russia's usage of nuclear weapons unlikely, although he refuses to give an official prediction of its actions. In an interview with a Czech TV channel, Ukraine's President said that not being able to meet Russia's ultimatums shouldn't be perceived as a direct atomic war threat as "these are unrelated things." He also claimed that "there is no need to fear Russia" and, even more so, a nuclear conflict.
In response to Russia’s threats, China and Germany accused the authorities of being "irresponsible" and of crossing "a line that the international community had drawn together."
Andrei Kelin, the Russian ambassador to the UK, has expressed a different perspective on the matter. He reminded the world that there are no winners in a nuclear war, and it should never be started. He also mentioned Russia "sticks strongly to this statement."
Although the West has been closely monitoring Russian nuclear weapons over the last few months, there has been no sign of movement or activity. John Kirby, the White House security spokesman, has said the US authorities have "grown increasingly concerned about the potential" of such a conflict. The most pressing question at the moment remains: are Russia's threats a form of information war or a real danger?
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