March 29, 2023

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Analysis of the American Institute for the Study of War: “Putin did not directly threaten a nuclear attack”

They were found in bullet-riddled and burned cars. They were in a so-called “grey zone”, located between the recently liberated city of Kupiansk, in the north-east of Kharkiv region, and a locality still under Russian occupation in the neighboring region, Luhansk.

On the other hand, thousands of Russian soldiers are surrounded by Ukrainian troops in Lîman, a strategic city in eastern Ukraine. President Zelensky has said that Ukraine will fight for the liberation of its entire territory, although Putin has proclaimed the annexation of four occupied Ukrainian regions.

Vladimir Putin: “Dear friends! Only now, and only modern Russia has given the people living in Luhansk People’s Republic, in Donetsk, in Zaporizhia, in Kherson the right to choose. People came to the referendum and made this choice – to be with their historical homeland, with Russia! I propose that we send them a sign of our support. A triple “Hooray!”. Take a deep breath and, on my command, one, two, three: Hooray! Hatred! Hatred!”

Biden: “We will not be intimidated by Putin”

Joe Biden: “America and its allies will not be intimidated, I want to emphasize, we will not be intimidated by Putin and his reckless threats. It doesn’t scare us and it won’t intimidate us. Putin’s actions are a sign that he is in trouble. He cannot seize his neighbor’s territory and let things stay that way. We will continue to provide military equipment so that Ukraine can defend itself.”

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Joe Biden then addressed – directly the Russian president, warning him against any attack on NATO territory.

Joe Biden: “America and its allies are fully prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory. Every centimeter. Mr. Putin, I want you to understand clearly what I am saying: Every centimeter”.

Vladimir Putin proclaimed on Friday that the annexed Ukrainian territories – after the farce of the so-called referendums – will be “forever” part of Russia, although none of the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson are NOT completely under the control of Russian forces.

But the Kremlin stressed that any attack on the newly annexed regions would be seen as an attack on Russian territory, signaling an escalation of the war.

Putin’s threats

Beyond announcing the absorption of regions that represent 15 percent of Ukraine’s territory, Putin reserved a good part of his almost 40-minute speech on Friday for accusations against the West.

He even appeared to be threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend the newly annexed territories.

Vladimir Putin: “The United States is the only country in the world that used nuclear weapons twice, destroying the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, they created a precedent.”

Jake Sullivan, National security adviser: “There is a risk, given all the comments (from the Kremlin) and Putin’s irresponsible rattling of the nuclear saber, that he would consider this possibility. We currently see no indication of the imminent use of nuclear weapons.”

According to the latest analysis by the American Institute for the Study of War, Putin did not directly threaten an immediate nuclear attack to stop the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Russian-occupied territories. Which suggests that the Kremlin leader believes that this would involve the West in the war and mean more losses than gains for Russia.

With all the spectacle staged, President Putin’s angry and delusional speech tried to hide great humiliation. The Russians have not been able to fully capture the territory of the Donetsk region, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting since 2014 against the government in Kyiv and which Putin used as a pretext for invading Ukraine.

Moreover, Russian forces appear to be on the verge of suffering one of the biggest defeats since the start of the war in the Donetsk region, after Ukrainian troops managed to encircle the Russian-held Lîman bastion, opening the way for a counter-offensive in the occupied east of Ukraine.

Zelenski: “The path of our country is clear, it is a path of independence, territorial integrity, integration into the civilized world and social development. The way of our enemy is also completely clear: defeat, shame and condemnation”.

20 civilians killed by the Russian army

However, at least 20 people died, including many children, after a new bloody attack by Russian forces on a convoy of civilians in Ukraine.

They were fleeing the war to Kupiansk, the recently liberated Ukrainian city located close to the Russian border in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.

Yesterday, 30 people were killed when Russian missiles hit another civilian convoy in Zaporozhye, in the south. The Russians apparently struck with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles – Soviet-era, and not very accurate; which are used more and more often on land targets.

Zelenski: “From what we know so far, there are 30 dead. About 100 wounded and traumatized people. The Russian military knew where their missiles would hit. It’s inhumane to do that.”

On the other hand, “the Russians kidnapped the general manager of the Zaporozhye plant and nobody knows where he is at the moment,” said the president of Energoatom, the Ukrainian state nuclear company.

He was detained by a Russian patrol on the way from the plant to the nearby town of Enerhodar. The car was stopped, he was taken by force, blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination – as specified by the Ukrainian official.

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