Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stern warning to the West. He raised the threat of a nuclear response, declaring, “This is not a bluff.”
Russians invaded Ukraine on Feb. 2. So far, a total of 5,916 civilian deaths during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of September 18, 2022, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified. Of those killed in Ukraine, 379 were children. And, 8,616 people were reported to have been injured. OHCHR, however, pointed out the real causality numbers could be higher.
“Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity—this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a 15-minute national address in which he blamed the West for the conflict.
“To those who allow themselves such statements, I would like to remind them, Russia also has many types of weapons of destruction, the components of which in some cases are more modern than those of the countries of NATO,” continued Putin.
In his speech, according to Putin, the partial mobilization, which is Russia’s first since World War II, was a response to what he called a decades-long Western plot to break up Russia.
He again accused the West for encouraging rebellion inside the country’s borders, arming terrorist rebels in the Muslim-dominated south, arranging a coup in Ukraine in 2014 and transforming Ukraine into an “anti-Russian bridgehead, turning the Ukrainians themselves into cannon fodder.”
Not long after Putin’s speech, China urged the Kremlin to de-escalate.
“We call on the parties concerned to achieve a cease-fire and an end to the war through dialogue and negotiation, and find a way to take into account the legitimate security concerns of all parties as soon as possible,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “We also hope that the international community will create conditions and space for this.”
President Joe Biden is urging Putin not to use chemical or nuclear weapons, warning the U.S. would respond depending on the extent of their use, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Military experts also weighed in.
“Any decision by Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons would be catastrophically stupid,” Matthew Harries, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, told The Wall Street Journal.
“The nuclear threat has been taken seriously from the outset, but you have to combine taking it seriously with not being intimidated by the mere mention of nuclear weapons,” he said.
U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, tweeted that “sham referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” Bloomberg reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a cabinet meeting at the Kremlin, Oct. 28, 2002. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS/Presidential Press Service) / AlexLMX, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/AlexLMX?mediatype=photography/