Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is warning that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine – and cautioned that it was a matter grave concern for the entire world.
‘Not only me – I think all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because it can be not real information, but it can be truth,’ Zelensky said, speaking in English.
‘We should think not be afraid, not be afraid but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine but for all the world, I think,’ he said.
Zelensky was responding to a question by CNN’s Jake Tapper about CIA Director William Burns warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin might use a tactical nuclear tactical weapon as a desperate act amid military setbacks in its invasion, which has continued for 50 days.
He mentioned nuclear weapons as well as chemical weapons as a potential threat.
‘Chemical weapons, they should do it, they could do it, for them the life of the people [means] nothing. That’s why,’ Zelensky said, speaking in sometimes imprecise English.
His dire comments in the interview come as it was reported Zelensky personally asked President Joe Biden to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism – a move with substantial implications for trade and sanctions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Friday Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons
Biden did not commit on the subject, sources told the Washington Post.
Such a designation would lead to economic sanctions on nations that continue to do business with Russia, as well as freezing Russian assets in the U.s.
He spoke a day after Burns issued his won warning in a speech April 14.
‘Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,’ said the spy chief.
US officials have long warned that Putin could resort to increasingly reckless actions, particularly after major setbacks in its invasion, including the failure to take Kyiv or decapitate the regime, substantial troop losses, destruction of heavy armor, and pivot refocusing on Ukraine’s south and east.
The US this week said it was not able to confirm Ukrainian claims that a Russian drone had dropped a chemical weapon on the besieged city of Mariupol due to distance from the alleged event.
The Azov regiment said a ‘poisonous substance of unknown origin’ was released on Monday.
Leaders have repeatedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine
The fears of a Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons comes after relentless conventional strikes on Ukraine
There are fears that Russia’s sunken Moskva cruiser could have been carrying nuclear warheads
Ukrainian rescuers put out a fire on a storehouse after shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 13 April 2022. The city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has witnessed repeated airstrikes from Russian forces including satellite cities
‘Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,’ said Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns
Russia warned of ‘unpredictable consequences’ after the U.S. announced the latest in a series of aid packages for Ukraine – this time including helicopters, 155 mm howitzer long-range artillery, and Switchblade drones as part of the $800 million effort.
The Russian embassy in Washington fired off a two-page diplomatic note or démarche, dated Tuesday, to the State Department in protest.
It was titled, ‘On Russia’s concerns in the context of massive supplies of weapons and military equipment to the Kyiv regime,’ according to the Washington Post which obtained a copy of the note in Russian.
It accused the U.S. and N.A.T.O. allies of trying to force Ukraine to ‘abandon’ negotiations with Russia ‘in order to continue the bloodshed,’ while pressuring other countries to end military and technical cooperation with Moscow.
‘We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,’ the note said.
Russia’s invasion, which began in late February, has already brought fears of a nuclear accident, after Russian troops seized and then later abandoned the Chernobyl nuclear plant after holding Ukrainian plant workers hostage for weeks.
Early in the conflict Russian forces fired on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
And there are concerns that the sinking of Russia’s Black Sea flagship, the Moskva, could have been carrying nuclear warheads.
The Soviet-era guided missile cruiser, sank near the port of Sevastopol on Thursday after Ukraine said it hit the ship with two cruise missiles. Moscow claims it was due to a fire on board, and says it sank in part due to ‘stormy sea conditions.’
Pentagon officials said Friday the US assessment is that Ukrainian forces struck the ship with two Neptune missiles.
Russia then launched a series of cruise missile strikes on Ukraine overnight in revenge for the sinking – saying it struck a factory near Kyiv that made the weapons used against Moskva.
The strikes illustrated how Moscow can still launch rocket attacks on Ukraine even after withdrawing its forces that had sought to circle Kyiv.
Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defense Express all warned that the Moskva could have been carrying two nuclear warheads designed to be fitted to its P-1000 ‘carrier killer’ missiles.
If true, the loss of the warheads into the Black Sea could spark a ‘Broken Arrow’ incident – American military slang for potentially lethal accidents involving nuclear weapons.
‘On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. ‘Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,’ he asked.
At the Pentagon Thursday, spokesman John Kirby said the Moskva’s main role was in providing air defenses for Russian forces.
The Slava-class guided missile cruiser is believed to have been armed with 16 anti-ship cruise missiles, 64 anti-air missiles, 2 anti-submarine mortars, 10 torpedo tubes, 6 close-in weapon systems, and 1 multi-purpose 130mm gun.