Zelenskyy was asked his opinion on commands made by U.S. CIA Director William Burns who recently said suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be willing to escalate following a series of setbacks in Ukraine.
“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said.
“Not only me, all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because it can be not real information, but it can be truth,” Zelenskyy told CNN in response to the comments.
Russia Might Target Convoys Headed for Ukraine
In Early March, Russia warned the West against sending additional arms to Ukraine, and said convoys coming from the West would be considered “legitimate targets” for the Russian armed forces.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Channel One, a Russian television broadcaster, that the West’s continued supply of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine may cause a conflict between NATO and Russia.
“We warned the United States that pumping Ukraine with weapons from a number of countries orchestrated by them is not just a dangerous move, but an action that turns the corresponding convoys into legitimate targets,” Ryabkov said.
While Ryabkov did not suggest Russia would use tactical nuclear weapons on NATO soil, it does indicate that Russia may consider targeting NATO territory in the event that such weapons are deployed.
Russia May Return to Kiev
Should Russia deploy and use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, they may be used in regions where the Russian armed forces have struggled to take control. While Russian troops redouble their efforts to keep control of the eastern regions of Ukraine, the deployment of weapons of mass destruction – including tactical nuclear weapons – could be on the cards for Kyiv.
According to ultra-nationalist political scientist Alexander Dugin, a close confidante to President Putin who is also known as “Putin’s brain,” warned this week that the Russian army’s withdrawal to the east was “temporary’ and that they would return to Kyiv.
“The Russian army is currently fighting the sovereign powers that impose a unipolar world,” Dugin told Turkish media. “We cannot lose this war. Otherwise, the whole world will turn into a large fire.”
Dugin said that the decision to withdraw to the east was “purely tactical” and that it will give Russian forces time to make “revisions” under the new leadership of Gen. Alexander Dvnornikov.
If tactical nuclear weapons are used in Ukraine, Dvnorkiov – who is known for his willingness to use extreme force in military conflicts – could well be the catalyst behind it.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.