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Senior Russian military leaders have discussed when and how they would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, multiple US officials have claimed.

The Russian military officials discussed the scenarios in which they would use the nuclear weapons, showing how frustrated the generals had become about the setbacks on the battlefields in Ukraine.

They did not talk about using nuclear weapons with President Vladimir Putin – but the conversations have heightened concern about the prospect of a nuclear Armageddon.

US government officials learned about the conversations between the military leaders in mid-October, as Moscow’s nuclear rhetoric intensified, reports The New York Times. 

The discussions between Russian military leaders about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine comes after Putin joked about the prospect of a nuclear war.

Last week, the Kremlin leader was asked to reassure an audience at think-tank the Valdai Discussion Club that the world is not on the verge of nuclear annihilation – and chose to respond with a long pause.

When host Fyodor Lukyanov pointed out that his silence was ‘alarming’, a smirking Putin responded: ‘I did that on purpose so you would be on your guard. The effect has been achieved.’

Senior Russian military leaders have discussed when and how they would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, multiple US officials have claimed. Pictured: A Russian nuclear missile is fired during testing drills last week

Senior Russian military leaders have discussed when and how they would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, multiple US officials have claimed. Pictured: A Russian nuclear missile is fired during testing drills last week

And now, it has emerged that Russian military leaders were discussing at length when and how they would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow is seriously considering using them in Ukraine.

John F. Kirby, a National Security Council official, told the New York Times: ‘We’ve been clear from the outset that Russia’s comments about the potential use of nuclear weapons are deeply concerning, and we take them seriously.

‘We continue to monitor this as best we can, and we see no indications that Russia is making preparations for such use.’ 

Russia’s nuclear stockpile, the largest in the world, consists of ‘tactical’, lower-yield bombs, and strategic weapons that can annihilate entire cities and population centres.

Russian tactical nukes, with a yield of between ten and 100 kilotons, are designed for use on the battlefield in contested territory. 

In comparison, and to signify the sheer scale of Russia’s nukes, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was approximately 18 kilotons.

Ukrainian servicemen fire artillery from a self propelled howitzer toward Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen fire artillery from a self propelled howitzer toward Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire artillery from a self propelled howitzer toward Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Tuesday

Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire artillery from a self propelled howitzer toward Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Tuesday 

Last week, Putin spoke at length about nuclear weapons, having threatened the West several times with an atomic strike – sparking fears he may also use one in Ukraine.

The Russian despot denied he has any plans to use one on his neighbour, saying there is ‘no political or military justification’ for doing so.

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But he also referred back to Russia’s nuclear doctrine which allows them to be used in the event the country is threatened which – at least according to the Kremlin – now includes occupied parts of Ukraine. 

Fears of nuclear escalation have been building as the war in Ukraine grinds into its ninth month with Kyiv on the front foot and Putin nowhere near achieving his aims.

Though the official purpose of the invasion remains the ‘liberation’ of the eastern Donbas region, according to Putin, in reality his troops have stopped advancing almost everywhere besides the town of Bakhmut, in Donetsk.

Meanwhile they are being pushed back in the northern Kharkiv region and southern region of Kherson – the latter of which Putin has declared to be part of Russia.

That has sparked fears he could resort to nukes, after he said he would use ‘all available means’ to defend the territory.

It comes after Moscow alleged that Ukraine is preparing to detonate a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ on its territory, meaning a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material to cause contamination.

Kyiv says accusations it would use such tactics on its own territory are absurd, but that Russia might be planning such actions itself to blame Ukraine.

The UN’s atomic watchdog has now been dispatched to two areas of Ukraine where Putin alleges the bomb is being prepared – at Kyiv’s insistence – as President Volodymyr Zelensky and his allies dismiss the claims as fiction.

Instead, they say Russia may be preparing the ground to use one of its own nukes as a pretext for escalating the conflict.

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US President Joe Biden, asked about Putin’s assertion he would never use nukes in Ukraine, responded last week: ‘Why does he keep talking about it?

‘Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon? He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this and he should just get out.

‘He can end this all, get out of Ukraine.’

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