real threat or bluff?

Since the start of the war, threats from Vladimir Putin about the use of nuclear weapons, whether veiled or not, have multiplied. Russian generals would even mention such a strike in mid-October.

the New York Times Russian generals have raised the possibility of a tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine in mid-October and are discussing its nature and timing, it announced on Wednesday. The American newspaper cited American intelligence sources to spread this information and noted that neither Vladimir Putin nor his defense minister participated in these exchanges.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, veiled or unveiled threats of nuclear weapons use have been legion for Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly reiterated that nuclear use is an option on the table if vital interests are taken into account. the Russian people had to be threatened. In early October, in the context of a private meeting, Joe Biden predicted that humanity has never come closer to a nuclear apocalypse since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

“Always take threats seriously”

Disclosures New York Times came for the first time to confirm that the strategic details of such a strike had been discussed in high places. John Kirby, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, said:

“We take this information very seriously. We’ve been following it as closely as possible from the beginning and we always do.”

An opinion shared by Claude Blanchemison, who was the French ambassador in Moscow in 2000-2004. “We always have to take the adversary’s almost implicit threats seriously. That’s why we understand very well that the Americans take this threat seriously.” BFMTV.

In particular, according to General Jerome Pellistrandi, BFMTV’s defense adviser, the use of nuclear weapons is a more accepted idea in Russia than in France: “In the Russian doctrine, the use of tactical nuclear weapons is more tactical, while in France there is a very clear separation.

Difficulties on earth

For New York Times, the conversation speaks to the level of anxiety that has won over Russian officers, as failures on the ground for Moscow mount. Since late summer, Kyiv has been leading a successful counter-offensive operation in the east of the country and has managed to recapture several towns. The city of Kherson, conquered by Russia at the beginning of the invasion, was even evacuated by Moscow in the face of forces advancing from Kiev.

A situation that can explain the discussion of Russian generals. General Jerome Pellistrandi said on Thursday: “The Russian forces, which are in a tactical impasse, have an internal problem. It is normal for the Russian generals to try to find a solution.”

For Héloise Fayet, researcher at the IFRI Center for Security Studies, New York Times actually reflects an expected situation.

“It is quite normal for generals to plan and consider several speeches that are not reported to the Ministry of Defense and President Putin. We are still planning, we hope it is done in other countries,” the researcher said. .

“When Extreme is a Last Resort”

France has no tactical nuclear weapons, only strategic ones. Paris still bases its nuclear strategy on that formulated by General De Gaulle and believes that the use of the atom in conflict, regardless of the size of the bomb, is a point of no return.

Recall that tactical nuclear weapons have a limited range, less than 500 km, and limited power. However, current tactical nuclear weapons would have the same power as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In any case, the consequences will be dire and call for caution in interpreting Vladimir Putin’s likely intentions.

“The Russians would only use it as an extreme last resort, for example on the day Putin might be in a position where he might have to surrender. We’re a long way from that, so the hypothesis is not the current hypothesis,” Claude Blanchemaison announced on our set.

Analysis shared by General Jérôme Pellistrandi: “We have entered a war that will last a very long time. Putin knows he has the resources, Russia’s history shows that the country has strategic depth. It has enormous challenges for the defense industry, but it will be difficult for the West in the long term. It fits with the idea that he will no longer be able to support Ukraine if it faces winter.”

A flight serving American interests?

Another element that allows you to put the situation into perspective: the elements on which the article is based New York Times. CNN reported that the conversation between the Russian generals was not recorded and was passed to US intelligence as is, but the latter relied on several elements of raw intelligence that, when analyzed together, led to the discovery of this discussion. .

enabling leakage New York Times It is no small feat for the American side to reveal the existence of this discussion. At least that’s what Claude Blanchmaison said on our set.

“We are a few days away from midterm elections (US midterm elections, editor’s note). The fact that the leak happened at that time is probably not completely insignificant. If, unfortunately, the Republicans moderated. The aid provided to Ukraine shows that now is not the time,” said former the ambassador said.

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