Putin 'will use nuclear weapons if facing defeat' says expert
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Many see Belarus as Russia’s closest ally in the war in Ukraine which has now surpassed 70 days in duration. Yet, as fears grow over the use of nuclear weapons via thinly veiled threats on Russian state TV, “Putin’s Puppet” in Minsk appears to have distanced himself from Moscow.
Mr Lukashenko, often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator” has been in power in Belarus since 1994, with many outsiders suggesting the last election was rigged in his favour to remain in power for another term.
However, his views on escalating the war in Ukraine through the use of nuclear weapons appear to show signs of cracks between himself and his close friend Putin.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Mr Lukashenko suggested the use of nuclear weapons is too close to home.
He said: “It would be unacceptable because it’s right next to us.
“We are not across the ocean like the United States.
“It is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where.
“Whether or not Russia is capable of that — is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”
Aside from Russian state television, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated the threat of the conflict turning nuclear “should not be underestimated.”
Although the top diplomat tried to stem fears of an escalation by suggesting Russia would strive to prevent such a scenario, he was mindful of change.
He said: “This is our key position on which we base everything.
“The risks now are considerable.
“I would not want to elevate those risks artificially.
“Many would like that.
“The danger is serious, real.
“And we must not underestimate it.”
Furthermore, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, also warned there would be “no winners” should the conflict turn nuclear.
Yet signs have remained worrying over the constant threat of nuclear weapons use.
Russian TV hosts laughed at the notion of one missile “levelling New York to the ground” as well as a 500m nuclear tsunami hitting the UK and leaving Britain a “nuclear wasteland.”
Such rhetoric has raised fears a rash decision could turn the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine into a global nuclear war.
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According to reports via Reuters, US senior officials have downplayed the threat.
Speaking to the agency, the official said: “We continue to monitor their nuclear capabilities every day the best we can and we do not assess that there is a threat of the use of nuclear weapons and no threat to NATO territory.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week he did not expect any further Russian military failures in Ukraine to push Putin into using tactical nuclear weapons there, saying the Russian leader had room to manoeuvre and end the conflict.
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For Mr Lukashenko, a direct neighbour to the ongoing conflict, patience appears to be wearing thin for Minsk.
Speaking of the longer than predicted duration of the conflict, he said: “I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it goes according to plan like the Russians say, or like I feel it.
“I want to stress one more time: I feel like this operation has dragged on.”
Yet, Mr Lukashenko still remains loyal to Moscow.
Discussing his relationship with Putin, Mr Lukashenko referred to him as his “big brother,” boasting that the Russian leader doesn’t have “closer, more open or friendlier relations with any of the world leaders other than the president of Belarus.”
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