The British Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood MP has warned on Sunday that Vladimir Putin could, in the “worst-case scenario” could launch low yield tactical nuclear weapons if his forces fail to enter the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
The Russian advance on Kyiv seems to be bogged down by the fierce Ukrainian resistance, and the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the survival of Putin’s regime could now be at stake if his invasion plan’s fail.
“This could well be the beginning of the end for Putin. I fear that he is prepared to use the most unsavoury means in this war,” she told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme.
Truss was asked about Russia’s arsenal of chemical and tactical nuclear weapons, she said: “I fear this conflict could be very, very bloody.
“I urge the Russians not to escalate this conflict but we do need to be prepared for Russia to seek to use even worse weapons.
“I think it would be hugely devastating. We need to avoid this at all costs.”
Speaking later on the BBC’s Sunday morning programme, Truss warned that senior Russian officials could be tried for war crimes “if they do go into that arena” of launching tactical nuclear weapons.
“This would be extremely serious escalation of the situation,” she said.
“The International Criminal Court has already said they are looking at what is happening in Ukraine and if I was a senior Russian official, or indeed the president, I would be very wary of taking further steps.”
Western officials have previously raised the alarm that the Russians could use “thermobaric vacuum bombs” which suck in oxygen to create a devastating, high temperature blast as they have been seen in Ukraine.
Ellwood who is also a former British Army officer said Western allies needed to think now what their response would be if Putin were to use unconventional nuclear forces.
“He could certainly use other weapons systems which haven’t been really tested or that we aren’t really used to,” he warned the BBC.
“Chemical weapons, the worst case scenario would be low yield tactical nuclear weapons as well. We need to ask those questions as to what we would do.”
Putin threatened Ukraine on Sunday with a chilling message with a ‘final solution’ and he will be remembered as ‘Adolf Hitler of the current century’
Following high tensions with the West over Ukraine Vladimir Putin has placed “Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert” on Sunday afternoon.
Putin said, “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly economic actions against our country, but leaders of major NATO countries are making aggressive statements about our country.
“So I order to move Russia’s deterrence forces to a special regime of duty.”
In a statement provided by the Russian TASS news agency, Putin said, “Senior officials of the leading NATO countries also allow aggressive statements against our country, therefore I order the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff [of the Russian Armed Forces] to transfer the deterrence forces of the Russian army to a special mode of combat duty.”
Pavel Podvig, director at the Russian Nuclear Forces Project and Senior Researcher in the WMD Programme at UNIDIR, warned Putin’s comments were “a very explicit nuclear threat.”
He added, “Kremlin has no good off-ramps at this point and is looking at an existential threat to the current state.
“The thing to do at this point is for everyone, literally everyone – US, NATO, NWS, NAS, NNWS, TPNW – to say forcefully and clearly that a threat of nuclear weapons is absolutely unacceptable.
“ABSOLUTELY. No nuclear d***-waving, please. This might get serious.”