The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, put back on the table the nuclear letter in the face of the lack of progress on the Ukrainian front during the winter campaign and in an attempt to force the West to give up, in the long term, arming the enemy army.
Putin announced the agreement for the early deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus just four days after demanding the United States in a joint statement with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, the withdrawal of its nuclear arsenals abroad.
Precisely, Xi warned him in Moscow that this was a red line that no one should cross, since in a nuclear war "there are no winners".
All this occurs when the Russian forces have significantly reduced the intensity of their attacks against Bakhmut.according to Western intelligence, although the Ukrainian defenders believe the battle for that Donbas stronghold is not yet over.
war of nerves
In an interview with Russian television, Putin accused the West of trying to torpedo Xi’s state visitreceived as a savior in the Kremlin, where both leaders discussed the Chinese peace plan for Ukraine.
About, Putin denied today that Moscow and Beijing have a "military alliance" and be a threat to the worldand instead accused NATO of creating a "overall axis" similar to the one that Nazi Germany forged with Italy and Japan in the 1930s.
Besides that the International Criminal Court ordered the arrest of Putin on the eve of the visit, The European Union announced on Monday, the day of Xi’s arrival in Moscow, the shipment of one million projectiles to Ukraine, a figure that the Russian leader himself considered "more than decent".
To this must be added UK announcement that it will supply kyiv with depleted uranium ammunitionwhich the Kremlin chief described as weaponry with "nuclear component".
Putin’s revenge was not long in coming. With the excuse of depleted uranium, on Saturday he assured that the training of the Belarusian military will begin on April 3s for the use of tactical nuclear weapons and on July 1 the silo that will house them will be built in a country that shares a border with Ukraine and NATO.
"Putin has deprived himself of the moral card of defender of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, without receiving anything in return"commented Maxim Starchak, an expert in nuclear policy, to the digital newspaper Meduza.
A bluff, more than a bluff
starchak considers that with this decision Putin wants to force the US to accept as "a fait accompli" their territorial gains in Ukraine, or else there will be no occasion to talk about agreements on strategic disarmament.
Instead, in his opinion, the lukewarm reaction of the US and NATO show that it has not succeededsince the White House does not want to participate in that haggling and does not want the "the nuclear factor" be part of the settlement equation in Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) considers the Kremlin tenant’s announcement to be "Irrelevant" within the framework of a possible nuclear escalation, the possibility of which he continues to consider "extremely low".
"Putin is trying to exploit Western fears of a possible nuclear escalation"argument.
kyiv called on Sunday to convene a UN Security Council meeting as Russia uses its arsenal "as a threat and intimidation tool".
Meanwhile, the high representative of Foreign Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, assured EFE in Santo Domingo that Putin’s announcement represents "another escalation of the conflict"a comment that is not contradicted by his recent assertion that Xi’s visit to Russia reduced "the risk of nuclear war".
It did not end there. Putin also warned NATO countries that they will not be able to keep up with Russia’s conventional weapons production rate, that it will produce and modernize 1,600 tanks this year, compared to the 400-odd that kyiv will receive from the allies.
The ISW considers some of those claims to be false. Remember that the main Russian tank factory, UralVagonZabod, produces 20 tanks per month, when the Russian army loses 150 tanks per month on the battlefield.
In addition, he considers that the American Abrams, German Leopards and British Challengers are superior to Russian T-55s, T-62s and even T-71s.
Be that as it may, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski assured that there will be no counteroffensive until kyiv receives enough Western ammunition.
Russian and Ukrainian war reports on Sunday reported fighting along the entire front line, but especially in Bakhmut, where the Russians are continuing their failed assault operations.