(RightWing.org) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has just upped the ante in the high-stakes poker game he is playing with the world as his invasion of Ukraine enters its second year. Unlike Texas Hold ’em, almost every modern military holds one ace, their arsenal of nuclear weapons, and the dictator just put his on the table in a big way in a move Ukraine’s foreign ministry is calling “nuclear blackmail.”
Bluffing or Not?
Putin announced his intention to send tactical nukes to Belarus in what he claims was a request from the government in Minsk. He declared this cooperation by the two signatories of the 1999 treaty that created the Union State between the two countries is sort of a counterbalance to what the United States does with its NATO allies.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov was quoted by the state-run news outlet Tass as saying this move is only one part of “an entire range of measures” in response to “Western elites [and their] deeply irresponsible attitude… toward international security.” In another article, the news agency interviewed Robinder Sachdev of the New Delhi think tank Imagindia Institute, who opined it is a logical response to America/NATO and that it is now a “tit-for-tat world.”
This is not the first instance of nuclear weapon cooperation between the two countries, although it seems to be the first involving actual warheads. In June 2022, it was announced that the Kremlin would supply Belarus with nuclear-capable missiles, and in August of that year, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed his country’s fleet of SU-24 bombers had been modified to carry nuclear weapons.
In a March 26 appearance on CBS News, “Face the Nation,” National Security Security Council Spokesman John Kirby was noncommittal when asked if this was just saber rattling, but he did say American intelligence agencies “have not seen any indication” that Putin is following through with this commitment. Other pundits and analysts have expressed their doubts about the leader’s stated intention to move any of Russia’s considerable nuclear arsenal outside the country’s borders.
The United Kingdom news site, The Sun, reported an unnamed senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims this is just all bluster on Putin’s part and that he is resorting to scare tactics because he is afraid to lose the fight he started. They also published an analysis that claims the Iskander missile system previously sent to Belarus could hit the capital cities of Warsaw, Poland, Vilnius, Lithuania, and Kyiv, Ukraine, within two minutes of launching.
In contrast, former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump John Bolton appeared on “CNN This Morning” on March 27 and expressed the opinion that while Putin may have misled the world in the past, “he may not be bluffing here.”
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