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Russia-Ukraine War: Moscow raises the tone of its threats and the ghost of nuclear weapons reappears

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s express trip to Finland and Sweden on Wednesday achieved its goal. He not only signed “a security agreement” to protect them, which includes the deployment of nuclear weaponsbut Finland decided to join NATO “without delay”, when the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues.

A strategic movewhich worries some European countries but especially angered the Kremlin.

It was a security agreement first ratified on a boat ride, with Boris rowing on a lake, a traditional Swedish symbol on an official visit, with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

Kremlin warning

Before the Finnish announcement, the Kremlin said that the Helsinki movement to join NATO does not help stability and security in Europe, clarifying that it is “definitely a threat” to Russia, which will be forced to adopt “acts of retaliation”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS

Day 78 of the war in photos: fighting over towns in eastern Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced that NATO is expanding towards Russian borders, to create a new threat to his country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov believes that Finland’s move to join NATO is a cause for regret and a reason for impose “a symmetric response”.

He said that Russia is ready to give the most decisive response to any side that tries to get involved in Ukraine and seeks to “prevent” the “special military operation”, as Russia calls the invasion.

“Any action by Russia will depend on how the expansion process will appear in the future, how close or far the military infrastructure will move, how close to our borders,” he warned.

“Of course, if you remember the current instructions from the (Russian) president and the commander in chief, to develop a list of measures to strengthen our western flanks in relation to strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, that is, NATO is moving in our direction,” the Kremlin spokesman said Thursday.

“So, of course, all of this will become elements for a special analysis and the development of the necessary measures, in order to balance the situation and guarantee our security,” he remarked.

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens retaliation if Finland joins NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens retaliation if Finland joins NATO.

new stage

Finland and Russia have a common border of 1,303 kilometers and until now the Helsinki government has remained neutral. But since the Russian invasion he has been concerned about his future, when he has one of the strongest and most modern economies in the EU.

Finland has a very well equipped military and is one of the largest in Europe. It spends 5 percent of its GDP on defense, more than the NATO target, and military service is compulsory, bringing it to 900,000 reservists.

This loss of neutrality by Sweden and Finland opens a new security chapter in the defense of Europe. NATO, which was a “flat electroencephalogram”, according to Emmanuel Macron, has come together like never before in 70 years, including the cold war.

The security pact signed by Great Britain with Finland and Sweden would have been unthinkable six months ago. But it worries the EU.

the british game

Great Britain is not part of the EU. Its “proxy” war against Russia has an ally in the United States, but for Europe it has a different intensity and different interests.

He does not want the war to spill over into the EU, despite the extreme positions towards Moscow of the countries that were part of Eastern Europe and that joined the EU for reasons of security and not political or cultural affinity with Europe, such as Poland and the Baltics, faced with the threat of Moscow.

Great Britain relied on them, when Emmanuel Macron, president pro tempore of the EU, wants to form a new political status to protect Ukraine but not be a member of the bloc, which will be a process that “will take decades”.

Great Britain does not accept this new status because it could include the kingdom if the government that supports Brexit changes. But it is France who wants it to be discussed at the Council of Europe meeting in June.


Support to Finland

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted his support for Finland’s decision. “In a phone call with President Sauli Niinisto, he has already assured the full support of the federal government,” he wrote.

They were joined by the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Romania, Latvia, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

But the war in Ukraine will be defined in the coming weeks, when Russia’s offensive in the east is failing for the same logistical and troop motivation reasons as the attack on kyiv.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Europe for the NATO meeting over the weekend. The next day he will arrive in Paris for a trade meeting with European leaders, when Ukraine demands a total embargo on Russian oil.

Putin’s nuclear weapons

President Vladimir Putin may resort to the use of nuclear weapons to prevent a war of attrition in Ukraine, US intelligence has warned.

Avril Haines, director of US national intelligence, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the next phase of Russia’s invasion remained uncertain and would likely become “more unpredictable and progressive”.

“Putin could potentially resort to nuclear weapons if he perceives an existential threat to his regime or to Russia,” Haines said.

Haines explained to the Senate that the United States did not see an “imminent” threat that Moscow would use such an arsenal. But if Putin believed that he was losing the war in Ukraine or that NATO was “intervening or about to intervene in that context, he could resort to atomic weapons.

“But there are a lot of things that he would do in the context of escalation before he got to a nuclear weapon,” he said. “And also that he is likely to engage in some signaling beyond what he has done so far before doing it,” he clarified.

“Despite the Kremlin’s shift to focus on capturing the Donbas region after attempts to capture the capital kyiv failed, the conflict remains deadlocked,” the US intelligence chief said. An idea that she shares with the British.

The Bucha cemetery, after the discovery of dozens of bodies in that city of Ukraine after a bloody attack by Russia, in April.  AFP Photo

The Bucha cemetery, after the discovery of dozens of bodies in that city of Ukraine after a bloody attack by Russia, in April. AFP Photo

The top US spy chief added that even if Russia were successful in eastern Ukraine “we are not confident that the fighting in Donbas will effectively end the war.”

He warned that Putin was “preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine, during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.”

However, he added that Putin faced “a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities.”

“Putin’s decisions are likely to become increasingly difficult to predict in the coming months with a period of more ad hoc decision-making in Russia, both regarding the internal adjustments needed to sustain this momentum, as well as the military conflict. with Ukraine and the West,” Haines said.

“The Russians are not winning and the Ukrainians are not winning. We’re kind of stuck here,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the audience.

Long war?

The growing likelihood of a protracted war could cause Putin to resort to more drastic optionssuch as imposing martial law in order to rebuild its military, redirect industrial production, or potentially intensify military action.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said in a virtual speech with students at the French Sciences Po university on Wednesday: “With each new Bucha, with each new Mariupol, with each new city where there are dozens of deaths, cases of rape, with With each new atrocity, the desire and the possibility to negotiate disappear, as well as the possibility of resolving this issue diplomatically.”

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, assured that the time would come when there would be peace talks on Ukraine. But but he did not see that they would be carried out in the immediate future. This Thursday he announced the launch of an investigation into the atrocities of Russian soldiers committed in Ukraine.

There are horrendous images of executions of civilians and soldiers and of rapes of Ukrainian civilians, children and babies.

Paris, correspondent


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