Putin Warned That Ukraine War Could Be Lengthy And Nukes Are an Option: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said that he could not state unequivocally that Russia would not use a nuclear weapon except in retaliation – and suggested that any promise to never use weapons of mass destruction was essentially a promise to never use them.
“The threat of nuclear war is growing — no need to hide this sin,” the Russian leader told members of the presidential Human Rights Council.
“If Russia does not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, then it will not be the second to use them either, because the possibility of using it in case of a nuclear strike on our territory will be sharply limited.”
Putin further said that the war in Ukraine could likely turn into a “long-term process,” and he essentially went on the defensive when addressing Russia’s setbacks on the battlefield, as well as this week’s strikes on three Russian airbases hundreds of miles from the fighting.
The leader dismissed the suggestions that Russian troops were deserting en masse and claimed that the Kremlin would not need to mobilize additional troops – a process that has resulted in protests and other upheavals in Russia.
“As for the slow process of the special military operation, then, of course, it can be a long-term process,” Putin explained, while also seeming to praise the fact that Moscow has annexed Ukrainian territory – in essence claiming the lands were historically Russian dating back to the 17th century.
“But then you mentioned that new territories had appeared,” Putin added. “This is such a significant result for Russia … The Azov Sea has become an internal Russian sea. Even Peter I had fought for access to the Azov Sea.”
Putin the Great?
This was also not the first time that Putin has invoked Peter I – more commonly known in the west as Peter the Great. The current Russian leader had noted that the former Czar waged the Great Northern War against Russia’s archrival Sweden for 21 years.
Peter I had successfully transformed Russia into an empire from its 1721 victory against Sweden and became “the Great” through warmongering. At 70 years of age, Putin likely doesn’t have the time – even if he hints he has the patience – to wage such a prolonged conflict.
Moreover, it wasn’t actually Peter the Great who had gained control of what is now Ukraine – but rather the German-born Catherine the Great, wife of Peter III, grandson of Peter I. Putin had previously invoked the 18th-century ruler to justify the seizure of Crimea in 2014.
The Empress also seized what is much of Ukraine during the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a fact remembered by residents of the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Earlier this year, city officials began to dismantle a controversial monument to Catherine.
Ukraine Massive Losses Not Addressed
While Putin has shown himself to be quite the student of Russian history, he had failed to admit that Russia has been driven back and forced to abandon some of the annexed territories, most notably the city of Kherson, which was liberated by Ukrainian forces last month. The city has since come under Russian artillery shelling, a fact that the Kremlin hasn’t denied.
In fact, it was just last week that Sergei Lavrov defended the actions by explaining that the Soviet’s Red Army had shelled the city of Stalingrad during the Second World War.
Using “all means available” to protect its territory, including the annexed regions, could include the use of nuclear weapons.
“We haven’t gone mad. We are fully aware of what nuclear weapons are. We have them, and they are more advanced and state-of-the-art than what any other nuclear power have,” Putin noted and said that Russia’s nuclear arsenal was “not a factor provoking an escalation of conflicts, but a factor of deterrence.”
What Putin also didn’t address is the staggering number of Russian losses.
\To date, Russia has seen more than 91,000 soldiers killed in the fighting – and is now on track to have lost more than double the number of U.S. losses in Vietnam in just a tenth of the time.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.