Russia’s mobilisation indicates Putin preparing for long war in Ukraine: Analysts

PUTIN “BLUFFED SO MANY TIMES”

Mr Putin on Wednesday also made a thinly veiled reference to using nuclear weapons and emphasised that he was not bluffing.

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” he said. “It’s not a bluff.”

But analysts said the Russian leader’s nuclear rhetoric has been used too many times, since even before his invasion of Ukraine. 

“The reason Putin has to say that he’s not bluffing is because he’s bluffed so many times before,” said Mr Giles.

“The effect of these nuclear threats, or these half-threats, is wearing thin as he’s resorted to them so very often … So everybody is interpreting this now as yet another bluff.”

However, the experts stopped short of dismissing the possibility of a nuclear response from Moscow further into the war – especially if Russia sees its “red lines” being crossed.

“Basically, (Putin has) laid out two conditions that might engender a nuclear response. One is for NATO troops to enter Ukraine and engage the Russians directly. And the other is if Ukrainian forces push into the Russian homeland,” said Mr Cancian.

Ukraine’s presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has called on world leaders to give Moscow a stern rebuke for Mr Putin’s threat.

“The world today should clearly say to the Russian Federation: ‘Look, if you go down the path of using nuclear weapons, we will be forced to do the same … We will be forced to strike the places from which nuclear weapons were launched against other countries’,” Mr Podolyak told CNA’s correspondent Julia Chapman.

“Because if the world does not fix this, then of course, the Russian Federation and any other nuclear power will be able to say that they have the ‘right of the strong’ to use it, to seize foreign territory and use nuclear weapons for its protection – well, let’s say, its unprovoked expansion,” said Mr Podolyak.