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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

At the battle of Stirling Bridge, 11 September 1297, the movie Braveheart has William Wallace provoking the English to battle, saying "Here are Scotland's terms. Lower your flags, and march straight back to England, stopping at every home to beg forgiveness for 100 years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today. ... Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own ass."

Putin's Nuclear Crisis - May 2023

British Army Colonel Hamish Stephen de Bretton-Gordon is a military analyst who formerly commanded NATO and U.K. chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear reaction troops. He is a regular commentator for Britain's The Telegraph and elsewhere on Russia's 14-month-old full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"I think Putin's nuclear threats have backfired, because the idea of the threatening nuclear attack, which really started at the very beginning of the conflict, was to keep NATO out. And clearly that has not happened, quite the opposite. So, the nuclear threat to me is completely hollow. In fact, I don't believe that he can use even his tactical nuclear weapons, because they're either out of range or I'm pretty certain that NATO would prevent them being fired, with some of the sophisticated weaponry that NATO has at its disposal. My greatest concern at the moment, actually, is the nuclear power stations in Ukraine, which could be attacked to create a nuclear accident and a contamination hazard across Europe far worse than we saw with Chernobyl back in 1986.

"The Russian psyche and the sort of Western psyche are completely different. I don't think NATO's commanders and leaders in the U.K. and France, or certainly the U.K. and the U.S., they absolutely can't bow down to further bullying, if you like, from Russia. The populations won't allow it.... It seems to me a lot of Putin's threats are more for the audience in Russia rather than in Europe, to show that he's still this strongman and all the rest of it. Outside of Russia he's seen as a gangster and a tyrant."

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said on 03 May 2023 that "In 2019 actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky ran as the peace candidate winning the Ukrainian presidency with 70% of the vote. As Benjamin Abelow observes in his brilliant book, “How the West Brought War to Ukraine,” Zelensky almost certainly could have avoided the 2022 war with Russia simply by uttering five words — “I will not join NATO.” But pressured by NeoCons in the Biden White House, and by violent fascist elements within the Ukrainian government, Zelensky integrated his army with NATO’s and allowed the U.S. to place nuclear-capable Aegis missile launchers along Ukraine’s 1,200-mile border with Russia."

Kennedy said : "The Donbass region, which is 80% ethnic Russian, and Russians where being systematically killed by the Ukranian government. (... ... ...) We need to remove our Aegis Missile System."

Dmitry Adamsky, Professor at Reichman University, Israel, wrote in Foreign Affairs, May 19, 2023 "Russian nuclear orthodoxy—a political myth, which Russian President Vladimir Putin himself endorses, that nuclear weapons and traditional values are the two pillars of Russia’s statehood and the main guarantors of its physical and moral security—became a widespread public belief before the war.... Russia’s approach to nuclear weapons has evolved since the invasion began—and not in comforting ways. The war further nuclearized the Russian establishment’s strategic thought and normalized nuclear weapons in the public’s consciousness. These mutually reinforcing trends have implications for Russia’s prospective behavior.... , the Russian public appears to have become more comfortable with the idea of using atomic weapons. The scale and sources of the public erosion of the nuclear taboo are unclear. They may be a natural reflection of wartime radicalization and a general perception of the war in existential-messianic terms. Alternatively, this nuclear normalization may have been authorized by the Kremlin as an attempt to enhance its saber rattling and restore Moscow’s coercive reputation, especially as the Kremlin has grown increasingly distressed by the West’s tendency to dismiss its nuclear signaling....

"Moscow believes that its nuclear coercion has deterred direct Western intervention in Ukraine and somewhat limited indirect interference. But it has been completely unable to compel Kiev to surrender and end the war. In the Kremlin’s view, the West does not doubt Russia’s nuclear might, but Washington and its allies do question Moscow’s resolve. The Kremlin’s conclusion is understandable: Russia’s repeated nuclear intimidations have not been followed by Russian actions. Coupled with Moscow’s caution during escalation management, this inaction has devalued the credibility of the country’s nuclear coercion....

"Against the backdrop of these formal innovations, within the Russian public an extraordinary ideational climate has emerged. In the past year, nuclear weapons have become a popular topic of conversation. Only lazy Russian media commentators have not offered their take on nuclear use. The notion that using nuclear weapons should be a last resort but not an unthinkable option has become routine in Russian media and has framed common thinking about escalation in war. This recurring belligerent nuclear rhetoric—official and unofficial alike—has somewhat eroded the nuclear taboo, even if unintentionally....

"...the messianic-existential aura that the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church have given to the war has also contributed to nuclear normalization. Both institutions are framing the conflict in almost transcendental terms—as a clash of civilizations and a civil war within the “Russian world.” The Kremlin and the church present Ukraine as a “prodigal daughter” that has become a proxy for the forces of darkness, specifically a collective West that is seeking to dismantle Russia spiritually and geopolitically. In their wartime speeches, both Putin and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, have embraced the language of martyrdom, of purifying sacrifice, and of repentance—all for the sake of winning the war."

The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion announced the liberation of Kozinka and Gora-Podol in Belgorod Oblast on 22 May. They added that they had entered Grayvoron, Russia, and urged residents of the Russian border regions to stay at home and "not resist". The Russian military unit 25624 is located in the Grayvoronsky district of Belgorod Oblast (in the city of Belgorod-22). This unit is part of the Strategic Missile Forces of the Russian Federation and is an "object C". This is code for "Central nuclear weapons storage point of the Russian Federation".

Andrii Yusov, representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, on air of the national joint 24/7 newscast. dysf 22 May 2023: "There is even additional information regarding evacuation measures. In an urgent mode, [people are evacuating from – ed.] the Belgorod-22 facility – a storage facility for nuclear weapons – Ruscists are also evacuating from the area near Grayvoron [city and district in Belgorod Oblast – ed.]."

Connor Echols interviewed Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan (ret.) senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, for Resppnsible Statecraft, May 22, 2023. "Putin will have no other way of escalating the war militarily than through a nuclear weapon. His conventional military has basically shown itself to be incapable of escalating beyond what they’ve done, and his many bombing campaigns have not broken the Ukrainian people or their country. So I don’t know of any other weapon or capability that he could use in that war, and he will not allow the recapture of large parts of these annexed provinces or Crimea....

"I make a provocative claim that, basically, the odds of a nuclear weapon being used in Ukraine are greater than 50 percent. That’s essentially my claim — that the odds of a nuclear weapon being used there are high. And so this is an urgent problem. Everyone agrees it’s a serious problem. No one says this is not serious, that the nuclear threats are happening. But not everybody agrees or acts as if they think that it’s urgent. In other words, they think the odds are low that this would happen. But I say they’re high."

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan voiced no objections to Ukraine hitting targets in Crimea, which overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in 2014 after a Western-backed coup in Kiev. Speaking to CNN, Sullivan explained that “we have not placed limitations on Ukraine being able to strike on its territory… What we’ve said is that we won't enable Ukraine with US-systems to attack Russia. And we believe Crimea is Ukraine.”

Sullivan’s remarks triggered outrage from Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov, who opined that by allowing Ukraine to use US-made planes to target the peninsula, the White House had “agreed to unleashing a nuclear war.” The official recalled that Crimea hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. “An attack on one of the pillars of Russia’s strategic security legally obliges our country to use all available means to prevent it from being undermined,” he said, adding that this could mean destroying hubs which are used to ship Western weapons to Ukraine, including those located on NATO territory.

A Ukrainian strike on Russia’s Crimean peninsula will be regarded as seriously as an attack on any other part of the nation, Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, warned on 22 May 2023. Antonov said that “the unconditional approval of strikes on Crimea using American and other Western weapons” as well as Western countries’ deliberations about supplying Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets “clearly demonstrate that the United States has never been interested in peace” and Russia was correct to have started its military campaign in Ukraine. He went on to warn Washington against “thoughtless judgments on Crimea, especially in terms of ‘blessing’ the Kiev regime for air attacks” on the peninsula. “Strikes on this territory are considered by us as an attack on any other region of the Russian Federation. It is important that the United States is fully aware of the Russian response.”

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on 23 May 2023 that the more destructive the weapons that Ukraine receives from its Western backers, the higher the risk of "nuclear apocalypse", the state-owned news agency RIA reported. RIA cited Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, as saying that Kyiv's denial of involvement in an armed incursion in the Russian border region of Belgorod was "lies".

NATO still stubbornly refuses to accept the fact that the current scenario, where it is fueling a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, is teeming with the risk of a nuclear apocalypse, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev told RT in an interview. "Otherwise, Washington and its NATO allies would not funnel such dangerous weapons to the Ukrainian regime. So, apparently, they believe that a nuclear conflict, or a nuclear apocalypse, is impossible, because it is never possible. They are wrong. And at some point, events can follow a completely unpredictable scenario. And the responsibility will lie entirely with the North Atlantic Alliance."

There is no one in the West that Russia could talk to, seek common ground with, at least "not yet," Medvedev stated. Those waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine with such zeal "don't want peace, they don't want cooperation, they want confrontation. They are trying in every possible way to infringe on our country," he stressed. As it fans the flames of the Ukraine conflict, Washington seeks its ultimate goal of destroying the Russian Federation, the country's former president and prime minister emphasized. "At minimum, restriction, containment of the Russian Federation. They are doing the same in relation to China. But the ultimate goal is the destruction of Russia as a country. But it won’t work… We will not let them," he said.

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin signed an agreement 25 May 2023 to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarusian territory. Russia's Defence Ministry announced that the two defense chiefs signed the document in the Belarusian capital Minsk. Shoigu reportedly said Russia has no choice but to take a countermeasure amid rapid growth of tensions on the two countries' borders. He said Russia will proceed with the deployment following a decision by its chief commander. He also said Russia is not transferring its nuclear weapons to Belarus, and will continue to decide on their management and use.

Shoigu added that the weapons are kept in a special storage facility in Belarus. He stressed that the two countries abide by international legal obligations. The move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March that Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be deployed in Belarus. Putin also said Russia planned to finish building a storage facility for the weapons in Belarus by July 1. The deployment is widely viewed as a warning from the Kremlin to Western nations that are boosting their military support for Ukraine.

If the West gives Ukraine nuclear weapons, Russia will need to launch a preemptive strike, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, said 25 May 2023. In a conversation with journalists during a visit to Vietnam , speaking about Europe and the United States , Medvedev did not rule out that in the current situation "they will give the Kiev regime quite enough aircraft," and moreover, maybe they will give nuclear weapons. “But then it will mean that a missile with a nuclear charge will arrive at them. There are irreversible laws of war. If it comes to nuclear weapons, it will be necessary to launch a preventive strike,” he said. In his opinion, the Anglo-Saxons are not fully aware of this and believe that it will not come to this. "It will, under certain conditions," he said.

Russia's enemies are cynically speculating, trying to attribute to Russia its lack of intention to use nuclear weapons in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. This was stated by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov in an interview with the International Life magazine , published on 26 May 2023. "Our enemies, our enemies are cynically speculating <...> trying to ascribe to us the missing intentions to use nuclear weapons in connection with what is happening in Ukraine. There have been no changes in our approach to this complex and alarming issue for many," Ryabkov said.

The diplomat explained that Russia’s nuclear doctrine allows for the use of tactical weapons in the case of an existential threat to the existence of the state, even if such aggression is carried out using conventional weaponry. However, he stressed: “I would not project all this onto what is happening in Ukraine and around it.”

Russia's embassy in the United States issued a statement 28 May 2023 rejecting Washington's criticism of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. "It is the sovereign right of Russia and Belarus to ensure their security by means we deem necessary amidst of a large-scale hybrid war unleashed by Washington against us," the embassy declared. "The measures we undertake are fully consistent with our international legal obligations," it said.

The embassy accused the US of hypocrisy, arguing that Washington had deployed nuclear weapons in Europe. "The United States has been for decades maintaining a large arsenal of its nuclear weapons in Europe," the embassy said. "Together with its NATO allies it participates in nuclear sharing arrangements and trains for scenarios of nuclear weapons use against our country." The United States has deployed nuclear weapons in Western Europe since 1954, with the first weapons being stationed in the United Kingdom. The US has about 100 B61 tactical nuclear weapons in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Asked 26 May 2023 about what the nuclear deployment in Belarus means for Russia’s nuclear doctrine, and whether it signals a shift in Moscow’s willingness to preemptively use nuclear weapons – including in Ukraine, as written about ad nauseam in Western legacy media and by DC think tanks, international security observer Mark Sleboda stressed that until Moscow announces otherwise, “Russia’s nuclear doctrine does not allow for a first strike capability.”

“The exception for that is, of course, the use of some other type of weapons of mass destruction against Russia, you know, chemical weapons, biological weapons… The other situation, and this is an exceptional one, is an overwhelming conventional attack [that may] threaten the very existence of the Russian state, which is generally interpreted to mean a gigantic NATO conventional attack that manages to destroy the Russian military and is marching on Moscow or St. Petersburg,” he explained.

“I would say that there have been a number of Russian officials and political figures that have been very loose with nuclear talk. They talk about the casual use of nuclear weapons like US congressmen do, you know, it’s like [late Arizona Senator John] McCain saying we should turn something into a ‘glass parking lot.’ But those statements of bluster and rhetoric have nothing to do with reality. And I have to say that in this particular situation I find such use of nuclear threats (that are not part of Russia’s nuclear doctrine and so are meaningless) to be less than constructive,” Sleboda noted.

Otherwise, he noted, “Russia’s nuclear doctrine is clear,” and that unless someone uses nukes or other WMDs against Russia first, a nuclear response will not follow, including in Ukraine.

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