Russia’s insistence that Moscow-claimed regions of Ukraine are protected by Vladimir Putin’s nuclear arsenal is both “moot” and a “bluff”, a leading expert has told Express.co.uk. Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that Moscow considers the recently-annexed regions of Ukraine to be under Russia’s nuclear remit.
Russia held referendums last month – widely condemned and not recognised as legitimate by the international community – to incorporate several eastern and southern regions of Ukraine into Russian territory.
Putin signed the treaty formalising the incorporation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia on October 5.
The move was previously ratified by both houses of the Russian parliament.
Putin has warned Moscow is willing to resort to nuclear weapons to defend the country’s “territorial integrity”.
The Russian leader has swung from bellicose nuclear rhetoric to sudden concessions that there can be “no winners” should the Ukraine war turn nuclear.
Peskov told reporters on Tuesday: “All these territories are inalienable parts of the Russian Federation and they are all protected.”
He said the “security” of the four annexed regions is “provided for at the same level” as the rest of Russia.
But Professor Christoph Bluth of the University of Bradford described Tuesday’s announcement as a “bluff”, adding he could not “see any use of nuclear weapons in this context”.
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Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Tuesday that in just the past eight days, 30 percent of Ukraine’s power stations had been taken out.
He said the result was “massive blackouts across the country”.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, of Mr Zelensky’s office, warned that the “entire population needs to prepare for a tough winter”.
He added: “Everyone should be ready, first, to save electricity, and second, rolling power blackouts are also possible if strikes continue.”
The UK Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday morning it was “highly likely” extensive missile fire from Russian forces aimed “to cause wide-spread damage to Ukraine’s energy distribution network”.