Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Putin nuclear threat is desperation, says EU commission

  • Russian president Vladmir Putin's war in Ukraine is not going as planned (Photo: kremlin.ru)
Listen to article

The European Commission has accused Russia's president Vladimir Putin of desperation after his threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

"He is using the nuclear element as part of his arsenal of terror. This is unacceptable," Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the EU's foreign policy division, told reporters on Wednesday (21 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This is also yet another sign of his desperation with how his aggression is going against Ukraine," he said.

Putin had earlier on Wednesday announced the "partial mobilisation" of some 300,000 Russian citizens to fight in Ukraine.

The new mobilisation of more Russian troops has put Lithuania's rapid reaction force on high alert, while Latvia said it would not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow's call to arms.

The move comes as Ukraine regains large swatches of territory previously seized by Russia.

The Russian president had also raised the prospect of nuclear arms, noting that Russia is ready "to use all weapons resources at our disposal".

The country is estimated to have almost 6,000 nuclear warheads. Of those some 1,500 have been retired or are set to be dismantled, leaving behind an arsenal of around 4,500.

But the European Commission said any such use would have "unforeseen consequences for the entire world".

Jamie Shea, a former Nato official, now teaching at University of Exeter in UK, said western leaders need to respond in a calm and measured way in public, but that behind the scenes Nato allies also need to consult on what they can do to dissuade Russia "from going down this reckless path."

"The use of a nuclear weapon is highly unlikely but its use would be so potentially catastrophic that no stone can be left unturned in preventing it from happening," he said.

Similar remarks were made among western heads of state and government.

Among them was Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte who described Putin's speech as a kind of panic reaction. "Russia cannot win this war," he said.

Others are calling for Putin and his foreign minister to personally face justice for their "aggression" against Ukraine.

Putin's pre-recorded speech, which was broadcasted on state TV, follows other plans to launch referenda in Ukraine's eastern Donbas in a bid to fold the region into Russia.

But Stano would not say if the EU would impose further sanctions on Russia should the referenda in the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Luhansk (LPR) and Donetsk (DPR) take place.

Instead he said such topics, and others, are currently being discussed among EU states at the United Nations Generally Assembly in New York.

"Whatever the outcome of this sham, illegal referendum would be, these regions will be still legally part of Ukraine," he said.

Those views were also shared by German chancellor Olaf Scholz, who told the UN assembly in New York that Putin's war in Ukraine was an act of "imperialism plain and simple."

France's president Emmanuel Macron, also at the UN, had also accused Russia of imperialism.

"Who is a hegemon now if not Russia?", he said.

Meanwhile, Putin's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that Russia was waging a war against the West in Ukraine given its supply of weapons to Ukrainian forces.

The EU is set to send further military support to Ukraine under its so-called European Peace Facility, which has already mobilised some €2.5bn.

Opinion

Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

Opinion

Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us