After suffering "humiliating defeats" to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to deploy nuclear weapons, says Rose Gottemoeller who served as NATO's deputy secretary general between 2016 and 2019. She voiced fears after Ukrainian forces retook much of the northeastern Kharkiv province in less than a week.
Russia Can Use Weapons of Mass Destruction
Gottenmoeller applauded Ukraine for its success, and said the momentum is clearly on the Ukrainian side. She highlighted maps showing that Ukrainian acquisitions over the past 48 to 72 hours are quite remarkable.
But the former US diplomat cautioned that Russia could respond in "unpredictable ways". She said the Kremlin will strike back now in really unpredictable ways and ways that may even involve weapons of mass destruction.
Nuclear Demonstration Strike
Gottenmoeller warned that Putin could order a nuclear demonstration strike, either a single strike over the Black Sea, or a strike at a Ukrainian military facility. The move would potentially strike terror into the hearts of the Ukrainians, the global partners and allies.
General Lord Richard Dannatt, former British Army boss, believes its crucial to send more weapons to "keep the pressure up on Russia". He described the Kharhiv retreat as Moscow's worst defeat since its rout from Kyiv last spring. Kharkiv is home to Ukraine's second-largest city and lies close to the border with Russia.
John Bolton, former National Security Adviser for the Donald Trump administration, said the nuclear war with Russia was "a lot closer" than previously. On Cats at Night on WABC radio, he highlighted "Where are we now after this Ukraine success in the north is not that point. But it is a lot closer to it than we have been before."
Russia's Loss: Kharhiv
On Sunday, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said its forces had been able to recapture dozens of towns and villages in the area, including the strategically important town of Izyum after a series of counterattacks. Russian forces had been using Izyum as a base. An official in Izyum revealed that 1,000 residents had died as a result of six months of fighting, but warned that the true figure could be much higher.
The Institute for the Study of War said Ukraine had executed a skilful campaign, maximizing the impact of Western weapons systems such as HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) donated by the US to attack Russian ground lines of communication in both Kharkiv and Kerson. But Russian forces responded with missile strikes that cut electricity and water supplies in Kharkiv city. They engaged in 18 missile and 39 airstrikes overnight.
Meanwhile, fighting is continuing in the Kharkiv region as Ukrainian forces continue to make good progress in the northeast Kharkiv and sothern Kherson regions. Ukraine wants to liberate the Kharkiv region and all territories occupied by the Russian Federation.