Top European officials must not shrug off Vladimir Putin’s recent nuclear threats — in fact, the EU foreign policy chief said Friday that the war had reached a “dangerous moment” with Russia’s army being backed into a corner.
What happened: Following last weekend’s referendums, Putin addressed his country on Wednesday, reiterating his intentions to annex four partially occupied regions of southern and eastern Ukraine.
In his speech, the Russian leader declared that 300,000 Russians who had completed their conscription would be called up, sparking groups of citizens to evacuate the country in order to avoid being deployed to the front lines.
In the speech, Putin also threatened to deploy nuclear weapons and other "means at our disposal" if he believed that Russia's "territorial integrity" was in danger.
His declaration follows a counteroffensive in which Ukraine says to have reclaimed more than 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) from Russian forces.
Read also: Does Defeat Mean Death For Putin?
Accusing the U.S. and its allies of engaging in “nuclear blackmail,” Putin noted, “I want to remind you that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have — we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”
Why it matters: "When people say it is not a bluff, you have to take them seriously," EU Foreign Policy Chief Joseph Borell told the BBC. Noting that "it's a dangerous moment because the Russian army has been pushed into a corner, and Putin's reaction, threatening using nuclear arms, it's very bad."
He added that Europe and its allies were struggling to control the narrative in the conflict, as Russia spun the idea that European sanctions against Moscow were to blame for the energy crisis that has driven up electricity and heating costs.
"People in my country tell me the price of the gas means we cannot continue working, we cannot continue making my business run," Borell said.
Photo: Created with an image from ΝΕΑ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ on flickr
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