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ISW: Kremlin continues to weaponize nuclear threats to deter support for Ukraine
The Institute for the Study of War reported on the Kremlin’s continued reliance on fears of nuclear escalation to deter the provision of Western aid to Ukraine in its latest update on March 2.
The report referenced the meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the New Dehli G20 summit that took place earlier in the day.
In the first meeting since the full-scale invasion, Blinken emphasized the American willingness to engage in strategic arms control after Russia suspended its participation in the New START Treaty on Feb. 21. The report characterized the suspension of the treaty as one of the threats Russia is using to slow down the provision of Western aid, as suggested in the previous ISW reports.
The Kremlin's continuous messaging of low-credibility threats of nuclear escalation aims to “intimidate the West and appeal to its (Kremlin's) ultranationalist base,” according to ISW.
The report also said that Russian forces likely chose to focus on the northeastern offensive around Bakhmut to pressure the Ukrainian forces to withdraw from the city. The assessment comes amid the Ukrainian military’s announcement of possible withdrawal from Bakhmut if “absolutely necessary.”
"As long as the command sees that it makes sense to keep a certain settlement, it will be fought for," Eastern Operational Command spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty said on television.