In a broadcast on Sept. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a tacit threat to use nuclear weapons against the West, marking another escalation in the conflict surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Putin’s statement followed accusations that NATO countries are pursuing policies amounting to “nuclear blackmail” and come at a time his country is losing support for the Ukraine war.
“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” the Russian President stated.
Shortly after the speech, flights from Moscow to Istanbul were completely sold out, while the price of other flights to leave Russia soared.
— Konrad Muzyka – Rochan Consulting (@konrad_muzyka) September 21, 2022
“Mobilisation introduces a completely new dynamic into the Russian society,” Konrad Muzyka told Sky News. “Many males will want to leave the country as soon as possible to avoid being sent to Ukraine. The sell-out of tickets to Turkey only confirms that.”
Russian citizens also took to the streets in protest, following Putin’s address.
Peter Stano, foreign policy spokesman for the European Commission, called Putin’s threat a “very dangerous nuclear gamble” and urged the international community to pressure the Russian leader to “stop such reckless behavior.”
Russia is a formidable nuclear power, holding the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world. Currently, Russia has 6,255 nuclear warheads, while the U.S. has 5,550.
A 2019 report shows that Russia has targets on both the east and west coasts of the U.S. in its sights, and would be able to deliver a nuclear missile to a terrestrial U.S. target in less than five minutes, via a submarine-launched hypersonic missile.
However, in June, a Russian lawmaker stated that the first city his country would strike would be London. If Russia were to detonate a nuclear weapon over London similar to it’s RT-2PM Topol (SS-25), which has an 800 kiloton yield, the fireball radius would be a square mile, the thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns) would be 148 square miles, and the blast radius would exceed 400 square miles, according to Nuke Map.
There would be an estimated 929,380 fatalities and more than 2.2 million people injured.
In his televised address, Putin assured his citizens he was not bluffing and signed a decree on Sept. 21 extending the contracts of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine until the end of the partial mobilization period, according to The Guardian.