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Ukraine's security council secretary doesn't rule out Russia using nuclear arms if facing 'catastrophic defeat'

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 17, 2024 11:37 AM 2 min read
National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Lytvynenko. (Ukraine's Presidential Office)
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Nothing can be ruled out if Russia finds itself on the verge "of a catastrophic defeat," including the use of tactical nuclear weapons by Moscow, Oleksandr Lytvynenko, the National Security and Defense Council secretary, said in an interview with The Times published on June 16.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. The threats have failed to materialize, and Russia continues to wage its all-out war without using its nuclear arsenal.

Lytvynenko was asked if there were any circumstances under which Putin could turn to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

"We can't rule out anything, if Russia is on the verge of a catastrophic defeat," he answered, adding that such a defeat could trigger the collapse of Russian front lines, army desertions, and protests in Moscow.

At the same time, the official said that Russia's defeat on the battlefield would not automatically lead to the use of nuclear weapons, as Putin could try to convince his people that the ongoing course of events is "a victory."

The official said that there is no possibility that Putin will deploy nuclear weapons as long as Russia has the upper hand in the full-scale war against Ukraine.

"He wants to live," Lytvynenko added.

Russia launched a new campaign in Kharkiv Oblast on May 10, but it has effectively bogged down in just about two weeks, with Ukrainian forces counterattacking near the border town of Vovchansk.

The most difficult battlefield situation is reportedly in Donetsk Oblast as Russia is pushing in multiple directions, Ukraine's General Staff said in its June 16 update.

The Group of Seven (G7) issued a statement regarding "Russia's irresponsible and threatening nuclear rhetoric" on June 14 as the two-day G7 summit in Italy drew to a close, warning Moscow against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

As Moscow's nuclear saber-rattling continues, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 16 that the alliance's members are in discussions to deploy more nuclear weapons on standby.

Telegraph: NATO in talks to put more nuclear weapons on standby, Stoltenberg says
NATO countries are in discussions to deploy more nuclear weapons on standby, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Telegraph on June 16 as Russia continues to threaten the use of nuclear weapons.

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