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Truth or bluff? Why Vladimir Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West more worried than we might believe

It may seem unthinkable to most of us but the Russian president is capable of unleashing Armageddon, say security analysts

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Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons but whether he's bluffing remains to be seen. Photo: Sputnik

Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons but whether he's bluffing remains to be seen. Photo: Sputnik

US President Joe Biden in New York last week, with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, second from right. Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

US President Joe Biden in New York last week, with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, second from right. Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A map of Ukraine which shows the areas that have been seized by Russia. Graphic: PA

A map of Ukraine which shows the areas that have been seized by Russia. Graphic: PA

Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (2nd right), seen here with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, took the world to the brink of nuclear war in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Photo: Renegade Pictures

Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (2nd right), seen here with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, took the world to the brink of nuclear war in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Photo: Renegade Pictures

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Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons but whether he's bluffing remains to be seen. Photo: Sputnik

President Vladimir Putin's latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia amid the war in Ukraine has made a troubling question much more urgent: Is the former KGB spy bluffing?

Putin cautioned it was no bluff, and Western politicians, diplomats and nuclear weapons experts are divided. Some say he could use one or more smaller, tactical nuclear weapons to try to stave off military defeat, protect his presidency, scare off the West or intimidate Kyiv into capitulation.


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