World News

World's nuclear superpowers are 'on brink of a direct armed conflict'

The world’s five nuclear superpowers are ‘on the brink of a direct armed conflict’ which will have ‘catastrophic consequences’, Russia warns

  • The Kremlin said on Wednesday that avoiding a nuclear clash was its first priority
  • Western capitals have said Moscow is behind a ramping up of nuclear rhetoric 
  • Russia said that it stood by a joint declaration for avoiding a nuclear war
  • Vladimir Putin has appeared on several occasions to threaten a nuclear strike 

The world’s five nuclear superpowers are ‘on the brink of a direct armed conflict’ which will have ‘catastrophic consequences’, Russia has warned. 

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that avoiding a nuclear clash between the world’s nuclear powers was its first priority, but accused the West of ‘encouraging provocations with weapons of mass destruction’.

Western capitals have said Moscow is behind a ramping up of nuclear rhetoric since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – most recently by repeatedly accusing Kyiv of planning to use a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’ without offering evidence. Kyiv has denied having any such plan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it feared the five declared nuclear powers were teetering ‘on the brink of a direct armed conflict’ and that the West must stop ‘encouraging provocations with weapons of mass destruction, which can lead to catastrophic consequences’.

‘We are strongly convinced that in the current complicated and turbulent situation, caused by irresponsible and impudent actions aimed at undermining our national security, the most immediate task is to avoid any military clash of nuclear powers,’ the ministry said in a statement. 

Western capitals have said Moscow is behind a ramping up of nuclear rhetoric since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – most recently by repeatedly accusing Kyiv of planning to use a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’ without offering evidence. Kyiv has denied having any such plan

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it feared the five declared nuclear powers were teetering ‘on the brink of a direct armed conflict’ and that the West must stop ‘encouraging provocations with weapons of mass destruction, which can lead to catastrophic consequences’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appeared on several occasions to threaten a nuclear strike in connection with the war in Ukraine, and Moscow has repeatedly said its military doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons if Russia’s territorial integrity is under threat

Moscow said it stood by a joint declaration issued together with the US, China, Britain and France in January affirming their joint responsibility for avoiding a nuclear war.

‘We fully reaffirm our commitment to the joint statement of the five nuclear-weapon states’ leaders on the prevention of nuclear war and the avoidance of an arms race from Jan. 3, 2022,’ the ministry said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appeared on several occasions to threaten a nuclear strike in connection with the war in Ukraine, and Moscow has repeatedly said its military doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons if Russia’s territorial integrity is under threat.

In September, Putin said he was ‘not bluffing’ when he stated that Russia was prepared to use ‘all available means’ to defend its territory. 

He also said the US had created a ‘precedent’ at the end of World War Two when it dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.

Shortly afterwards, Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechnya region and a key ally of Putin’s, called for Russia to use a ‘low-yield nuclear weapon’ in Ukraine. 

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechnya region and a key ally of Putin’s, called for Russia to use a ‘low-yield nuclear weapon’ in Ukraine

Moscow also frequently accuses Kyiv of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and alleged at the start of the war that the Western NATO alliance planned to use Ukraine as a bridgehead to threaten Russia – allegations denied by Ukraine and NATO

Moscow also frequently accuses Kyiv of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and alleged at the start of the war that the Western NATO alliance planned to use Ukraine as a bridgehead to threaten Russia – allegations denied by Ukraine and NATO.

It was previously reported that senior Russian military leaders have discussed when and how they would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

The officials talked about scenarios in which they would use nuclear weapons, showing how frustrated the generals are about setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.

They did not talk about using the weapons with Putin – but the conversations have heightened concern about the prospect of a nuclear Armageddon.

US government officials learned about the discussions in mid-October, as Moscow’s nuclear rhetoric intensified, reports The New York Times. 

It comes after Putin joked about the prospect of a nuclear war last week.

The Kremlin leader was asked to reassure an audience at the Valdai Discussion Club think-tank that the world is not on the verge of nuclear annihilation – and chose to respond with a long pause.

Senior Russian military leaders have discussed when and how they would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Pictured: A Russian nuclear missile is fired during testing drills last week

They did not talk about using nuclear weapons with Putin – but the conversations have heightened concern about the prospect of a nuclear Armageddon

When host Fyodor Lukyanov pointed out his silence was ‘alarming’, a smirking Putin responded: ‘I did that on purpose so you would be on your guard. The effect has been achieved.’

John F. Kirby, a National Security Council official, told the New York Times: ‘We’ve been clear from the outset that Russia’s comments about the potential use of nuclear weapons are deeply concerning, and we take them seriously.

‘We continue to monitor this as best we can, and we see no indications that Russia is making preparations for such use.’ 

Russia’s nuclear stockpile, the largest in the world, consists of ‘tactical’, lower-yield bombs and strategic weapons that can annihilate cities and population centres.

Its tactical nukes, with a yield of between ten and 100 kilotons, are designed for use on the battlefield in contested territory. 

In comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was approximately 18 kilotons.

Ukrainian servicemen fire artillery from a self-propelled howitzer toward Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire a self-propelled howitzer at Russian positions on Tuesday 

Last week, Putin spoke at length about nuclear weapons, having threatened the West several times with an atomic strike – sparking fears he may also use one in Ukraine.

The despot denied he has any plans to use one on his neighbour, saying there is ‘no political or military justification’ for doing so.

But he also referred back to Russia’s nuclear doctrine which allows them to be used in the event the country is threatened which – at least according to the Kremlin – now includes occupied parts of Ukraine. 

Fears of escalation have been building as the war in Ukraine grinds into its ninth month, with Kyiv on the front foot and Putin nowhere near achieving his aims.

Though the official purpose of the invasion remains the ‘liberation’ of the eastern Donbas region, according to Putin, in reality his troops have stopped advancing almost everywhere besides the town of Bakhmut, in Donetsk.

Meanwhile they are being pushed back in the northern Kharkiv region and southern region of Kherson – the latter of which Putin has declared to be part of Russia.

That has sparked fears he could resort to nukes, after he said he would use ‘all available means’ to defend the territory.

It comes after Moscow alleged that Ukraine is preparing to detonate a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ on its territory, meaning a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material to cause contamination.

Kyiv said accusations it would use such tactics on its own territory are absurd, but that Russia might be planning such actions itself to blame Ukraine.

The UN’s atomic watchdog has been dispatched to two areas of Ukraine where Putin alleges the bomb is being prepared – at Kyiv’s insistence – as President Volodymyr Zelensky and his allies dismiss the claims as fiction.

Instead, they said Russia may be preparing the ground to use one of its own nukes as a pretext for escalating the conflict.

US President Joe Biden, asked about Putin’s assertion he would never use nukes in Ukraine, responded last week: ‘Why does he keep talking about it?

‘Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon? He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this and he should just get out.

‘He can end this all, get out of Ukraine.’

Poland begins work on 130-mile fence along its border amid fears Russia is planning to orchestrate an influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East

ByTom Brown For Mailonlineand Afp 

The Polish government today announced the construction of a 130-mile razor-wire fence along the border with Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad to prevent illegal crossings.

Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced the decision amid concerns in Warsaw that Russia plans to orchestrate an influx of migrants.

‘The airport in Kaliningrad is now accepting flights from the Middle East and North Africa. I decided to take action to enhance the security of the Polish border,’ Blaszczak told reporters.

‘Already today work will begin… on a temporary barrier’ along the 130-mile border, he added.

He said the razor-wire fence will be 8ft high and 10ft wide, and will also feature an electronic monitoring system and cameras.

Kaliningrad airport is accepting flights from the Middle East and North Africa. Polish authorities said they are concerned Russia is planning to encourage migrants to head to Poland to destabilise the country

Polish soldiers install barbed wire along Polish border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, near Zerdziny village, north-eastern Poland, 02 November 2022

Polish Defence Minister on 02 November said he had taken the decision to construct a barrier on the country’s eastern border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

Moscow ‘will reveal evidence UK helped Crimea attack’

Moscow will ‘in the near future’ summon the British ambassador to hand over ‘evidence’ of its claim that the UK helped orchestrate an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Russia has claimed UK ‘specialists’ helped Kyiv launch a drone attack on the fleet in Moscow-annexed Crimea at the weekend.

Russia has also accused London of being behind September explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

Russian authorities have so far provided no proof to back up their claims.

‘The UK ambassador will be summoned and will be given the appropriate materials,’ foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding the meeting would take place ‘in the near future.’

‘The basic materials will be handed over as evidence to the British side and will also be shown to the general public,’ she added.

Poland already built a steel wall last year along its border with Russian ally Belarus after a migrant influx there.

Tens of thousands of migrants and refugees, mostly from the Middle East, have crossed or attempted to cross into Poland from Belarus since 2021.

Poland’s border guard and NGOs on site continue to report dozens of attempted illegal crossings there on a daily basis.

The West believes the influx was orchestrated by Minsk to destabilise the region, a charge denied by the Belarusian regime.

Poland sent thousands of troops and police officers to reinforce border guard patrols at the height of the crisis and approved a law allowing migrants to be forced back into Belarus.

The so-called pushbacks, and the government’s overall tough anti-migration stance, drew condemnation from activists and aid organisations.

Lithuania, too, already has a fence along its border with Russia in Vistytis.

The existing fence skirts the Suwalki Gap, a stretch of land along the Lithuanian and Polish border between Kaliningrad and Russia-loyal Belarus, which is thought to be an important chokepoint into Europe by Russian strategists.

The news comes after four Russian fighter jets were intercepted after taking off from Kaliningrad and forced to return to base after they infringed on Polish air space in early October.

Reports came that the jets also infringed on Swedish airspace. Poland is a long-time member of NATO having joined in 1999, while Sweden earlier this year applied for membership to the security bloc alongside Nordic neighbour Finland.

Migrants aiming to cross into Poland are seen in a camp near the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on the Belarusian-Polish border on November 17, 2021

Lithuania already has a fence along its border with Russia. It runs along the Lithuanian border with the  Kaliningrad enclave

Terrified Russia: Antidepressant sales surge as military mobilisation brings reality of Ukraine war home – seeing 400,000 flee the country to avoid conscription.. but there’s no sign of Putin toppling yet, Western officials reveal

ByChris Pleasance for MailOnline 

Antidepressant sales in Russia have skyrocketed as the miserable reality of Putin’s war in Ukraine finally dawns on the public, Western officials have said.

Russians spent 70 per cent more on the pills in the first eight months of this year compared to last, even though they spent much of 2021 in Covid lockdowns, figures have shown.

‘Russians feel frightened’ as the ‘catastrophic error’ of Putin’s invasion – including conscription and a tanking economy – begin to hit people’s lives, the officials added.

That is underlined by the fact that at least 400,000 have fled since Putin announced he would begin drafting people into the army in September, significantly more than the 300,000 he added to his ranks.

Vladimir Putin is facing increasing dissent at home as miserable reality of his war dawns on Russians but there is no prospect of him being replaced, Western officials have said

Mobilistion has proved particularly unpopular with some 400,000 Russians fleeing the country rather than sign up while mass protests also broke out (file image)

Moscow ‘will reveal evidence UK helped Crimea attack’

Moscow will ‘in the near future’ summon the British ambassador to hand over ‘evidence’ of its claim that the UK helped orchestrate an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Russia has claimed UK ‘specialists’ helped Kyiv launch a drone attack on the fleet in Moscow-annexed Crimea at the weekend.

Russia has also accused London of being behind September explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

Russian authorities have so far provided no proof to back up their claims.

‘The UK ambassador will be summoned and will be given the appropriate materials,’ foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding the meeting would take place ‘in the near future.’

‘The basic materials will be handed over as evidence to the British side and will also be shown to the general public,’ she added.

Despite that, officials say there is no sign that Putin has decided to change course in Ukraine and no sign that anyone is preparing to replace him. 

Russia is now into its ninth month of fighting in Ukraine and has failed to achieve any of the military objectives set by Putin at the start of the war.

The Kremlin thought it was getting involved in an easy conflict that would take days to resolve and had ‘no Plan B’ for what to do if the war went awry, officials said.

‘They still don’t have Plan B,’ the officials added.

That has led to growing dissent both within the Russian population and the elite close to Putin, who are increasingly willing to voice that discontent in public.

Russians are not in favour of the war, the officials said, and elites are increasingly worried about the cost to their businesses and also the prospect that their children may be called to fight on the frontlines.

That has led to the likes of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner boss dubbed ‘Putin’s chef’, to publicly criticise the way the war is being run – though not Putin himself. 

Officials added there is ‘no likely prospect of a change of leadership’ in Russia in the near-term – though did flag elections due in 2024 as a moment of likely tension.

‘He has been weakened by this really catastrophic error,’ said the Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

‘We are seeing the Russian military humbled on the battlefield by Ukraine. People can see that he has made a big error,’ said the same official. 

Russia is now into its ninth month of fighting in Ukraine and ‘still does not have a Plan B’ after lightning strikes on Kyiv failed, officials have said

Both Ukraine and Russia are digging in for what is likely to become a protracted and bloody war, with no end in sight

‘That has to mean that people are talking more about succession, they are talking more about what comes next, they are imagining a life beyond. But what I am not doing is suggesting that that’s anytime soon.’

In an attempt to distract from his own failures, the officials said that Putin is making increasingly wild and baseless claims as a way of diverting attention.

They picked out threats of a ‘dirty bomb’, allegations that the UK and US attacked the Nord Stream pipes, and claims about Liz Truss’s hacked phones as examples.

Russia is also increasingly relying on missiles strikes on Ukraine’s power grid, water supplies and cities as a means of breaking Ukrainian support for the conflict.

But, if anything, it appears to have strengthened their resolve, the officials said.

They also revealed that ‘frequent’ conversations are taking place with Russian counterparts about ‘serious’ peace talks, though there is no sign of that yet.

Moscow is facing a dire situation on the battlefields of Ukraine as it attempts to defend a frontline hundreds of miles long with badly mauled units as winter hits.

The money was meant to go to their families in the impoverished Chuvashia region. ‘It’s clear – we were f***ing fooled,’ said one mutineer as the female officer tries to address their concerns

Kyiv has taken advantage of that fact by launching counter-attacks in the north and south which have recaptured swathes of territory.

Troops continue to make plodding advances towards the city of Kherson and into Luhansk oblast, in the northwest, amid the hope of another breakthrough.

But as the ground softens through autumn those are expected to slow, while vehicles getting bogged down in mud.

Winter – which is bitterly cold in Ukraine – is expected to bring a near-total halt to advances as both sides dig in, before renewed fighting in spring.

During that time, hundreds of thousands of Russian conscripts are expected to arrive in Ukraine to plug holes in the defensive line and perhaps to carry out attacks when the conditions improve.

However, it remains vanishingly unlikely that Putin will be able to achieve his initial aim of toppling the government – and even the reduced aim of ‘liberating’ the Donbas region looks unlikely.

Source: Read Full Article