Russia: ‘Cannot rule out tactical note’ warns Seely
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Mr Seely, who sits on Parliament’s influential Foreign Affairs Committee, has voiced serious concern over the potential use of a nuclear weapon by Russia. US and UK defence officials are to convene an emergency meeting amid fears Mr Putin could detonate a nuclear warhead over the Black Sea in response to military setbacks in Ukraine.
“Just to say he’s bluffing is not good enough for the simple reason we don’t know if he is bluffing or not.
“He might well be bluffing, nd certainly the Russians have used the language around nuclear threat and nuclear weapon threat, they were doing it back in 2016 to Denmark, and the Danes wanted to take the American nuclear missile shield programme.
“So this is unfortunately not new, but the intensity and the seriousness of the situation is, and you cannot rule out the potential for a tactical nuclear use.
“If for example, Crimea is overrun if the Ukrainians get the forces onto the Crimean peninsula, and maybe even if they’re breaking the land corridor between Crimea and Donbass.
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“Do I think it’s going to happen? It may well, not and the overwhelming likelihood is that it won’t, but just to say he’s bluffing is not good enough.”
Nuclear fears have ramped up after Putin said on Wednesday he was introducing martial law in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow claimed last month as its own territory but is struggling to defend from Ukrainian advances.
In televised remarks to members of his Security Council, Putin boosted the powers of Russia’s regional governors and ordered the creation of a special coordinating council under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to step up the faltering war effort.
He said the “entire system of state administration”, not only the specialised security agencies, must be geared to supporting what Russia calls its “special military operation”.
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The package of moves, nearly eight months into the war, marked the latest escalation by Putin to counter a series of major defeats at the hands of Ukrainian forces since the start of September.
Putin will face “severe consequences” if he uses nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Downing Street warned.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been in Washington for talks with his US counterpart amid reports Mr Putin could detonate a nuclear warhead over the Black Sea.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not comment on Mr Wallace’s meeting but said: “We are very clear with Putin that the use of nuclear weapons will lead to severe consequences.”
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He added: “I would guide away from speculating on this as an issue. I think the public need to be reassured that we are taking a strong lead in this area.
“I think it would be a mistake to be drawn into speculation on this rather than focusing on what we are seeing day by day, which is a senseless and barbaric attack on civilians across Ukraine.”
It comes after The Sun newspaper quoted a security source who said the “threat” of Putin’s nuclear weapons “has increased recently”.
Mr Wallace, who is also MP for Wyre and Preston North, pulled out of a planned session with the Commons Defence Committee on Tuesday to take part in talks with US counterpart Lloyd Austin.
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