In his nightly address on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seemed to mock Russia and its use of foreign weapons while many are still worried Putin could turn towards nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Ukrainian president took the opportunity to taunt the Russians for not having access to the advanced weaponry in constant supply to Ukraine from NATO allies.
In a section of his nightly address where the Ukrainian president directly addressed invading Russian forces, he insisted that Ukraine had already won the war.
“Even if you find some other weapon somewhere in the world with the same ‘natural’ name for your ‘Russian world,’ like these Iranian ‘Shahed,’ with which you are trying to bomb our cities, such as Bila Tserkva,” Zelenskyy said, referencing the hundreds of Iranian drones received and deployed by Russia in recent weeks.
“It won’t help you anyway. You have already lost.”
The Ukrainian president also touched on how Vladimir Putin recently used a national address to announce a “partial mobilization” of his military and explained once again to the Russian people why the war in Ukraine is essential in the first place. Putin also appeared at an annexation ceremony last week, in which he touted his military’s performance in Ukraine so far and promised to reclaim territory from Ukraine.
“You’ve lost because even now, on the 224th day of the full-scale war, you have to explain to your society why all this is needed: this war, the false mobilization and self-destruction of all the prospects of your people,” Zelenskyy said.
Putin Really Could Deploy Nuclear Weapons
In the face of crippling economic sanctions from the West and on the verge of a full deployment of Russian soldiers and reservists, Putin appears to be seriously considering – or at least seriously bluffing – to use tactical nuclear missiles to regain ground in Ukraine and potentially scare off further Western support.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned on Sunday that the decision to launch a nuclear strike would be entirely up to the Russian president, explaining that there are “no checks on Mr. Putin.”
Polish officials seem to believe that Putin is serious, too. This week, Polish President Andrzej Duda asked for U.S. nuclear weapons to be moved to Polish territory in anticipation of a Russian strike. Reports suggested that U.S. officials were not aware of the request as of Wednesday, and experts claimed that such a move would actually make the weapons less useful and more vulnerable.
Symbolic though it may be, a European leader requesting that the United States move nuclear weapons to European territories indicates a return to the days of Cold War hostilities – and potentially a nuclear conflict in the near future.
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.