Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus, real threat or warning for media use? “In Putin’s threats it is always difficult to distinguish the media aspect from the military one,” says the ambassador Stefano Stefaniniformer representative of Italy at the Nato.
«If it is a warning, it responds to two concerns: the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring, which has a real foundation because Kiev can now field a military device strengthened with the western weapons it has received, including the Leopard tanks; and then the British announcement of a supply of depleted uranium projectiles, which Putin wanted to rebut tit-for-tat».
What could happen now?
«Vladimir Putin is not saying that he will supply tactical nuclear weapons to Belarusians, but that he will deploy them in Belarus, for Russian troops. So far, Ukraine has not been attacked by the Russians directly from the Belarusian border. If this were to happen, a northern front would open up with a territorial and geopolitical extension of the conflict. Paradoxically, it is as if Finland authorizes Ukrainian troops to attack Russia on the Finnish border…».
Could it really be possible to use tactical weapons?
«Russian nuclear doctrine does not provide for the indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons, either strategic or tactical, it considers them the last resort to avoid defeat. The Americans and NATO are convinced that beyond Moscow’s irresponsible rhetoric on “nuclear power”, the problem could only arise if Russia felt directly attacked by Ukraine. And this is one of the reasons why the Ukrainians are prevented from waging war on the territory of the Russian Federation, except for well-calibrated surgical actions against military targets. But the question could also arise if Moscow perceives that a Ukrainian military success undermines consolidated conquests, such as the Crimea. The Americans have already warned that the response to the tactical weapon would be very strong, even if not nuclear, and then there is China‘s firm warning to Putin not to use it”.
Have Westerners crossed all the red lines, as Vladimir Putin is saying?
Does Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow alienate Chinese mediation?
“I would say yes. The mediator must have an impartial capacity. If Biden presented himself today as a possible mediator, they would laugh in his face. China has sided with Russia, though not militarily. A true mediator should divide his time between the parties, while Xi Jinping paid a three-day visit to Putin with offers of friendship, moreover ignoring the international arrest warrant for war crimes, while he has not foreseen visits to Kiev, nor made the announced phone call to Zelensky. The Chinese plan is not acceptable to Ukraine, nor to others. We are inclined to see Beijing’s games from the point of view of the European theatre, while its interests are much broader and political support for Russia depends on the fact that China, object of American containment as well as South Korea and other countries of the Peaceful, find a natural bank in Moscow according to the principle that my opponent’s enemy is my friend».
Will the Ukrainian counteroffensive be President Volodymyr Zelensky’s last chance?
«A year ago we wondered if the war would end on May 8th. Making predictions is impossible: on the one hand there is a country that defends its freedom and independence, and the Russians should be the first to know to what extent the resistance of an invaded country can reach, because they have been; on the other a power, Russia, with a thickness that allows it to absorb enormous losses and continue to pursue its objectives. If and when there is a counter-offensive, it will be measured how much Western aid has allowed Ukraine to catch up. Success, or the measure of success, will determine the possible resolution of the conflict. The military outcome will condition the political outcome.”
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