Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear Response

Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear Response

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain.

Kyiv: 

    
Russia said on Saturday its troops had abandoned their bastion of Lyman in Ukraine’s east for fear of encirclement and the leader of Chechnya, a close Kremlin ally, said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in response.

The fall of the town is a major setback for Moscow after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the Donetsk region, along with three other regions, at a ceremony on Friday that was condemned by Kyiv and the West as a farce.

“Allied forces were withdrawn from the settlement of … Lyman to more advantageous lines because of the creation of the threat of encirclement,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence said.

The statement ended hours of official silence from Moscow after Kyiv first said it had surrounded thousands of Russian troops in the area and then that its forces were inside the town of Lyman.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya who describes himself as a footsoldier of President Putin, said he was unable to remain silent after Moscow abandoned the territory, which the Kremlin had proclaimed to be part of Russia just a day earlier.

“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Mr Kadyrov wrote on Telegram in a post in which he derided a Russian general.

The Russian defence ministry’s statement made no mention of its troops being encircled.

“The Russian grouping in the area of Lyman is surrounded,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces, said hours earlier.

He said that Russia had had 5,000 to 5,500 troops at Lyman but the number of encircled troops could be lower because of casualties.

“We’re already in Lyman, but there are battles,” the spokesperson said on television.

Two grinning Ukrainian soldiers taped the yellow-and-blue national flag on to the sign at the town’s entrance in Donetsk region’s north, a video posted by the president’s chief of staff showed.

“Oct. 1. We’re unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine,” one of the soldiers said, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.

Neither side’s battlefield assertions could be independently verified.

Logistics Hub 

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since a lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

The Ukrainian military spokesperson said the capture of Lyman would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced at the beginning of July after weeks of slow, grinding advances.

“Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk, and it is psychologically very important,” he said.

Donetsk and Luhansk regions together make up the wider Donbas region that has been a major focus for Russia since soon after the start of Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24 in what it called a “special military operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.

Vladimir Putin proclaimed the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian land in Friday’s ceremony – a swathe of territory equal to about 18% of Ukraine’s total surface land area.

Ukraine and its Western allies branded Russia’s move as illegal. Kyiv vowed to continue liberating its land of Russian forces and said it would not hold peace talks with Moscow while Vladimir Putin remained as president.

Retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, said a Russian defeat in Lyman after Putin’s declaration would be a major political and military embarrassment for the Russian leader.

“This puts in bright lights that his claim is illegitimate and cannot be enforced,” he said.

It remained to be seen how Ukrainian commanders would exploit the rout, he said, adding it likely would further erode the morale of Moscow’s troops holding other Ukrainian territory.

Mr Cherevatyi said the operation around Lyman was still under way and Russian troops were mounting unsuccessful attempts to break out of the encirclement.

“Some are surrendering, they have a lot of killed and wounded, but the operation is not yet over,” he said.

Ukraine’s exiled governor of Luhansk said Russian forces had asked for a safe exit out of the encirclement, but Ukraine rejected the request.

The Ukrainian General Staff told Reuters it had no such information.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Biden and Obama’s effort to secure a nuclear deal is weakening the Abraham Accords

Is Biden’s effort to secure a nuclear deal weakening the Abraham Accords?

The Iran nuclear agreement reached in 2015 played a role in bringing about the Abraham Accords—the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—but there are question marks over whether the Biden administration’s overtures to Tehran are now encouraging the demise of the accords.

The Islamic Republic’s jingoism helped motivate the Sunni Gulf states to enter into normalized relations with Israel in 2020, Mideast experts say.

But now, the essential question for many experts is: Are Sunni Arab nations hedging their bets and engaging in a rapprochement with Tehran, leading to a deterioration of the normalization process? Take the example, in early September, of the United Arab Emirates’ decision to send an ambassador to the Islamic Republic after a six-year diplomatic downgrade in relations.

“There is no doubt that a sense of American inconsistency regarding Iran has fueled the desire of Gulf countries to ‘hedge’ [their positions] between the U.S. and its allies, and Iran. The apparently never-ending nuclear negotiations form an element of this,” Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at both the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and the Middle East Forum (MEF), told JNS.

Spyer added, “The perceived failure to respond with sufficient and consistent force against such episodes as the attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 and the drone attack on Abu Dhabi in 2022 further fuel the sense that there is no clear and firm anti-Iran camp available to join. At the same time, this inconsistency may in fact make Israel a more attractive balancing partner, even alongside continued hedging, since Israel can provide hard power responses to the Iranian threat (in such fields as air defense) on a level beyond the capability of any other regional power.” 

The UAE’s close proximity to Iran, the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism according to the U.S. State Department, surely fills the tiny oil-rich nation with acute anxiety. The Iranian regime-backed Yemeni Houthi movement has attacked UAE oil facilities and tankers. 

Brian Katulis, a senior fellow and vice president of policy at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told JNS that “Arab Gulf countries are hedging on two main fronts, first on the global stage, trying to maintain good ties between their own countries and the United States, Russia and China at the same time.

Secondly, they are hedging within the region, with some countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar seeking to work closely with Israel, either overtly or behind the scenes, while maintaining ties with Iran. That’s mostly a function of their unique geographic position and relatively small size and how their leaders assess it is best to manage risks and threats while expanding opportunities for their countries,” Katulis said.

The UAE’s behavior towards Iran’s regime largely mirrors Washington’s negotiating posture. The U.S. strategy advocates powerful economic incentives to motivate the clerical regime to step back from its terrorism and its illicit nuclear program.

Critics of the 2015 JCOPA argued that the cash pumped into Tehran’s coffers before the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear accord in 2018 only served to intensify the clerical state’s terrorism.

A renewed U.S. atomic accord with the Islamic Republic could see Tehran receive as much as $275 billion in financial benefits during the first year, according to Foundation for Defense of Democracies Iran expert Saeed Ghasseminejad. 

The economic package for the theocratic state could total $1 trillion by 2030, said the FDD expert. The JCPOA would only impose temporary restrictions on Tehran’s capability to produce nuclear bombs. 

Iran’s regime remains the 800-pound gorilla in the Gulf room, helping to explain the region’s volatility.

Katulis said, “Talks on a new Iran nuclear deal have not achieved their goals, much in the same way that [President Donald] Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran did not achieve its objectives. The region remains a tinderbox in large part due to the Iranian regime’s destabilizing actions that undermine regional security and the stability of the state system in certain places like Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The discontent Iran’s regime is experiencing at home will further complicate dynamics.”

Hayvi Bouzo, a Syrian-born Mideast expert and journalist who co-founded Yalla Productions, told JNS, “The trauma in many Sunni Arab countries caused by the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime is triggered [once more] by the recent negotiations under the Biden administration.

“The nightmare scenario would be that a JCPOA 2.0 deal would be signed. This would translate to the Iranian regime receiving billions of dollars [and] embolden its terrorist proxy militias throughout the region, still without really addressing the fact that Iran has secret nuclear sites that are not being inspected. Also, the deal is only postponing and not really addressing the fact that Iran has all the needed capabilities to develop a nuclear bomb,” she said.

Bouzo noted that “the massive protests that are taking place throughout Iran today—after the “morality police” killed Mahsa Amini for not wearing hijab ‘properly’—could have a major impact on the nuclear negotiations and make it harder for Arab countries to expand their relationships with the Iranian regime. 

“The massive protests in Iran today could result in the exact opposite, which is a closer relationship between Sunni Arab states and Israel, as they see the Iranian regime is in a much more weakened position today,” she said.

Iranian Horn ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi, above. (AFP)

October 01, 2022

  • High-level jockeying for position over who will succeed Khamenei as supreme leader

JEDDAH: Iran’s clerical rulers are in disarray over how to crush mass anti-government protests amid rifts over security tactics and high-level maneuvering over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health, posing a threat to Iran’s religious establishment.
Although in theory, the 86-member Assembly of Experts will choose the next leader, jockeying for influence has already begun, making it difficult for the ruling clerics to unite around a set of security tactics.
“This race has caused disarray inside the leadership. The deepening rift is the last thing we need when the country is in turmoil,” one hard-line official said. “The main issue right now is the Islamic Republic’s survival.”

FASTFACT

Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health.

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi. “Neither of them has popular support,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But what keeps the Islamic Republic in power is not popular support, but repression — and both men are deeply experienced in repression.”
As the protests spread to 80 cities nationwide, Iran’s rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the troubles — a narrative few Iranians believe.
Alarmed by the depth of popular outrage, some senior clerics and politicians have appealed for restraint to avoid bloodshed that could galvanize and embolden protesters.
But that has not stopped hard-liners calling for tougher measures, despite the death of at least 75 protesters in the security crackdown. “A part of the establishment fears that this time using more lethal force can push the Islamic Republic to a no return point,” said a senior former Iranian official.

The Russian Horn Will Use Nukes: Revelation 16

Vadym Skibitsky

Probability of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons is ‘very high’, says Ukraine intel chief as Putin raises the stakes with annexation

BYSOPHIE MELLOR

September 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM MDT

Representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Defense Ministry of Ukraine Vadym Skibitsky says Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

Fears of nuclear war are mounting across the West as Russia mobilizes hundreds of thousands of troops and prepares to annex four regions in southeastern Ukraine.

FROM ALCON

Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to sign treaties to take 15% of Ukrainian territory and make a speech at a ceremony in the Kremlin today, after Moscow-installed administrations staged referendum votes in Ukraine’s regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

The Kremlin claimed that all of the regions overwhelmingly voted to back annexation (by 99%, 98%, 93%, and 87% respectively).

Western condemnation

Countries across the world have condemned the vote, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying today that the U.S. will “never, never, never” recognize Russia’s attempt to annex the regions of Ukraine.

The EU similarly denounced the vote last week. The bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles called the vote “illegal” and “another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systemic abuses of human rights.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday said Russian forces would be met with a “tough” military response, telling outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi on the phone that “the territorial integrity of Ukraine will be restored. And our reaction to Russia’s recognition of their results will be very harsh.”

Nuclear threat rising

But as Ukraine arms itself once again to fight against the incoming troops, the threat of nuclear war is increasing too.

And an embittered Putin, losing on the battlefield, may look to strike the region he claims to be liberating with tactical nuclear weapons, according to a Ukrainian defense official.  

Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy intelligence chief told the Guardian that Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

“[Russian military] will likely target places along the frontlines with lots of [army] personal and equipment, key command centers, and critical infrastructure,” Skibitsky said regarding Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

“Everything will depend on how the situation develops on the battlefield,” he said.

The nuclear weapon Russia may be planning to use is about 100 times more powerful than the type of rockets it has used against Ukraine so far, Skibitsky added.

How would the world respond?

Russia has lost as many as 80,000 troops to death or injury, by Western estimates, and has been forced to scrap its upper age limit of 40 for contractual service in the army.

As protests erupted across Moscow and St Petersburg last week and military-aged men fled to the border to avoid mobilization, Putin ramped up his rhetoric on nuclear war.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in a recorded note, in reference to Moscow’s sizable nuclear arsenal.

“It’s not a bluff,” he added.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday that the nuclear warnings are “a matter that we have to take deadly seriously.”

He noted that the U.S. has communicated directly with the Kremlin “that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the United States and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” he said.

The move would also attract an immense retaliation from NATO.

Russia’s annexation puts world ‘two or three steps away’ from nuclear war

By Liz Sly

October 1, 2022 at 3:00 a.m. EDT

LONDON — President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of the annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine signals the onset of a new and highly dangerous phase in the seven-month old war, one that Western officials and analysts fear could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons for the first time in 77 years.

Putin has previously threatened to resort to nuclear weapons if Russia’s goals in Ukraine continue to be thwarted. The annexation brings the use of a nuclear weapon a step closer by giving Putin a potential justification on the grounds that “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened,” as he put it in his speech last week.

He renewed the threat on Friday with an ominous comment that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a “precedent” for the use of nuclear weapons, echoing references he has made in the past to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as setting a precedent for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and Western officials say they still think it unlikely that Putin will carry out his threats. Most probably, they say, he is hoping to deter the West from providing ever more sophisticated military assistance to Ukraine while the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops allows Russia to reverse or at least halt its military setbacks on the battlefield.

But the threats appear only to have strengthened Western resolve to continue sending weapons to Ukraine and the Ukrainian military is continuing to advance into Russian-occupied territory. Even as Putin was announcing the annexation in Moscow on Friday and newly conscripted Russian troops were arriving in Ukraine, Ukrainian troops were in the process of encircling Russian soldiers in the eastern city of Lyman, extending their reach from their recent advances in Kharkiv into the newly annexed region of Donetsk.

In all four regions that Putin said he was annexing — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — Russia only controls part of the territory.

Now that the areas being fought over are regarded by Moscow as Russian, it is possible to chart a course of events toward the first use of a nuclear weapon since the 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.

“It’s a low probability event, but it is the most serious case of nuclear brinkmanship since the 1980s” when the Cold War ended, said Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It is a very dangerous situation and it needs to be taken seriously by Western policymakers.”

U.S. and European officials say they are taking the threats seriously. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that there would be “catastrophic consequences” if Russia resorts to the use of nuclear weapons. He refused to specify what those would be but said the precise consequences had been spelled out privately to Russian officials “at very high levels.”

“They well understand what they would face if they went down that dark road,” he said.

European officials say the threats have only strengthened their resolve to support Ukraine.

“No one knows what Putin will decide to do, no one,” said a European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject. “But he’s totally in a corner, he’s crazy … and for himy there is no way out. The only way out for him is total victory or total defeat and we are working on the latter one. We need Ukraine to win and so we are working to prevent worst case scenarios by helping Ukraine win.”

The goal, the official said, is to give Ukraine the military support it needs to continue to push Russia out of Ukrainian territory, while pressuring Russia politically to agree to a cease-fire and withdrawal, the official said.

And the pressure is working, “slowly,” the official said, to spread awareness in Russia and internationally that the invasion was a mistake. India, which had seemed to side with Russia in the earliest days of the war, has expressed alarm at Putin’s talk of nuclear war and China, ostensibly Russia’s most important ally, has signaled that it is growing uneasy with Putin’s continuing escalations.

But the annexation and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of extra troops have also served as a reminder that the Western strategy hasn’t yet worked enough to convince Putin that he can’t win, said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was based in Moscow until earlier this year.

The West had been hoping that Ukrainian successes would force Putin to back down, but instead he is doubling down. “Time and again we are seeing that Vladimir Putin sees this as a big existential war and he’s ready to up the stakes if he is losing on the battlefield,” Gabuev said.

“At the same time I don’t think the West will back down, so it’s a very hard challenge now. We are two or three steps away” from Russia failing to achieve its goals and resorting to what was once unthinkable.

Those steps to secure its positions include Russia pushing hundreds of thousands more men onto the battlefield; escalating attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine; and perhaps also embarking on covert attacks on Western infrastructure.

Although the United States and its European allies have refrained from making direct accusations, few doubt that Russia was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, said the E.U. official.

“I don’t think anyone has doubts. It’s the handwriting of the Kremlin,” he said. “It’s an indication of, ‘look what is coming, look what we are able to do.’ ”

Nuclear weapons would only likely be used after mobilization, sabotage and other measures have failed to turn the tide, and it’s unclear what Putin would achieve by using them, Gady said.

Despite some wild predictions on Russian news shows that the Kremlin would lash out at a Western capital, with London appearing to be a favored target, it is more likely that Moscow would seek to use one of its smaller, tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield to try to gain advantage over Ukrainian forces, said Gady.

The smallest nuclear weapon in the Russian arsenal delivers an explosion of around 1 kiloton, one fifteenth of the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which would inflict massive destruction but on a more limited area.

Because the war is being fought along a vast, 1,500-mile front line, troops are too thinly spread out for there to be an obvious target whose obliteration would change the course of the war. To make a difference, Russia would have to use several nuclear weapons or alternatively strike a major population center such as Kyiv, either of which would represent a massive escalation, trigger almost certain Western retaliation and turn Russia into a pariah state even with its allies, Gady said.

“From a purely military perspective, nuclear weapons would not solve any of Vladimir Putin’s military problems,” he said. “To change the operational picture one single attack would not be enough and it would also not intimidate Ukraine into surrendering territory. It would cause the opposite, it would double down Western support and I do think there would be a U.S. response.”

That’s why many believe Putin won’t carry out his threats. “Even though Putin is dangerous, he is not suicidal, and those around him aren’t suicidal,” said Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Pentagon officials have said they have seen no actions by Russia that would lead the United States to adjust its nuclear posture.

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Obama Deal

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Nuclear Talks

Friday, 09/30/20223 minutes

Iran SanctionsIran Nuclear

Author: Mardo Soghom

After reports that nuclear talks with Iran have ended, Washington tightened the screws by sanctioning several foreign companies involved in oil trade with Tehran.

Critics have been accusing the Biden administration of not seriously implementing sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, while negotiating with Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, the JCPOA. They argue that a substantial increase in Iranian oil exports to China occurred when President Joe Biden assumed office. This in turn made Iran more intransigent in nuclear talks that began in April 2021.

The latest warning came on September 23 from an advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), opposed to the revival of the JCPOA. In a report UANI argued that since President Joe Biden’s election, China has bought around $38 billion of crude oil from Iran in violation of US third-party sanctions.

The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on September 28 evaded a question from Iran International during his daily briefing about the UANI report.

“I think what we can say with some confidence is that some of the open-source statistics have been inflated, and that is the case when it comes to certain reports of Iranian oil exports to the PRC,” Price said when he was asked about the administration’s response to the UANI report.

But the shipment of at least 750,000 barrels of crude per day to China has been reported by industry sources, news agencies and experts since early 2021, which triggered the warnings by critics of the administration’s Iran policy. Although prices Iran charges small Chinese refineries is a secret and it is reported that discounts are offered, Iran must have earned close to $30 billion in this period by shipping 350-400 million barrels of crude to China.

Although this is far below the heyday of Iran’s $100 billion annual oil export earnings around 2010, but it was sufficient to convince Tehran that it can weather the economic pressure while negotiating with the Biden administration.

Now, the Biden administration is left with no discernible Iran policy except tightening enforcement of sanctions, the same ‘maximum pressure’ strategy Trump was using when he lost the 2020 election.

In addition, a popular revolt against the clerical regime in Tehran has exposed the degree to which the rulers are willing to use violence against their own citizens, forcing the Biden team to impose new human rights sanctions.

The protests were triggered by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman who received fatal blows to her head while being arrested for “inappropriate hijab”. Both her killing and the ensuing protests have generated a high level of international support for the people in Iran, which can be a double nail in the coffin of the JCPOA talks.

A renewed deal would have released tens of billion of dollars for the Islamic Republic and in the current atmosphere of human rights violations by Tehran, signing a nuclear agreement that would lift sanctions and enrich the government, seems improbable.

The Biden administration has apparently reached the conclusion that Iran does not want a nuclear agreement, which would mean that the way it tried to revive the JCPOA simply allowed Iran to sell more oil and greatly advance its nuclear program. It calculated that maybe it can reach the nuclear weapons threshold and have enough income to survive.

Why Putin will soon have to nuke Ukraine: Revelation 16

Russia Ukraine War Nuclear Threats Explainer

Why Putin will soon have to choose between losing in Ukraine or using nuclear weapons

September 29, 2022 01:55 PM

Tom Rogan, National Security Writer & Online Editor

Ukraine has both the political and popular resolve to liberate its territory. Thanks to the United States, Britain, Poland, mand the Baltic states , Kyiv also has the economic and military means to believe it can achieve its ambition. In contrast, it is increasingly clear that Russia lacks the popular resolve to endure a bloody war. Equally important, Russia lacks the economic and military means to conduct a drawn-out war.

In the coming months, Vladimir Putin will thus be forced into one of two choices. He can end the war by ceding back those areas of Ukraine that his forces occupy. (Ukraine might allow Putin to keep at least some of Crimea under any ceasefire agreement.) Alternatively, Putin can escalate by using nuclear weapons in an attempt to end continued Western support for Kyiv and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into a Russian-favorable ceasefire.

What Putin cannot do, however, is continue to wage war in a conventional fashion.

Top line: Putin’s draft of at least 300,000 conscripts — possibly to rise to more than 1 million — cannot reverse his recent record of battlefield losses. That’s because those losses are not the result of manpower shortages per se, though that is a factor. Rather, Putin’s central problem is that his military lacks credible leadership and professionalism and is beset by low morale and terrible logistics . The scale of this challenge is underlined by the inability of Russian forces to conduct even orderly ground retreats, let alone combined arms offensives. As in eastern Ukraine, this has opened Russian lines to high-mobility Ukrainian flanking attacks, which enable Ukraine to retake vast areas of territory while forcing rolling Russian surrenders and abandonment of priceless equipment.

Putin’s logistics problem is only set to grow. Russia, after all, is rapidly depleting its stocks of artillery, missiles, bombs, and other weapons. This is to say nothing of the thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, electronic warfare vehicles, air defense systems, and aircraft that Ukraine has captured or destroyed. The Kremlin is desperately attempting to hide this military supply chain crisis, but Western intelligence services are convinced that it is critical. Indeed, one need only look at leaked videos on social media that show Russian conscripts issued archaic rifles being told to bring their own sleeping bags to war. One need only look at the increasingly desperate calls by top Kremlin officials to bolster military production. One need only look at the increasingly ludicrous, if escalatory, rhetoric on Russian state media.

Furthermore, there is Russia’s economy. Sanctions and the voluntary dislocation of foreign investors have smashed Russia’s economic foundations. Putin’s oligarchs are retreating at home and abroad, transitioning from London fine dining to variable window jumping. Russia’s energy, finance, and export industries are in crisis. Inflation remains higher than in the U.S., the importation of high-value goods is increasingly difficult, and structural inefficiencies such as weak infrastructure and corruption are only worsening. Europe is gradually weaning itself off Russian gas and oil, although Viktor Orban’s support , a new Italian government skeptical of sanctions, and the approaching European winter offer Putin a shot at dividing the West.

All of this means that Russia has reached or will soon reach a point where it can no longer launch major combined arms offensives. And those offensives are the only military means by which Russia can restrain Ukraine’s battlefield momentum and eventually win this war. Putin’s only conventional military alternative is to use his new conscripts as cannon fodder, forcing Ukraine to spread its forces thin and expend resources managing operations across a vast front — except the Russian people do not see the war in Ukraine as their president would have them see it. That is to say, as an heir to the existential “Great Patriotic War” against the Nazis, a war deserving of selfless sacrifice. Many Russians still support Putin’s presidency , but far fewer want to fight in Ukraine.

Take the widespread protests against mobilization. Evincing its growing concern, the Kremlin has issued rare apologies for mistakes made during the draft’s rollout. A growing number of middle-class professions are also being granted exemptions from service. But that poses its own Catch-22: increasing pressure on Russia’s rural hinterland and ethnic minority populations to make up the manpower difference. As the nonprofessional soldiers’ body bags start coming home, the Kremlin risks new political instability in its far-flung oblasts (an enduring cause for Kremlin paranoia).

This leaves Putin with his literal nuclear option: launching an unprecedented strike on Ukraine to regain the strategic initiative. Russian nuclear doctrine and Putin’s unavoidably personal-political link to this war mean that such a strike cannot be ruled out. Certainly, Russia’s formal absorption of Ukrainian territory, as effected via fixed referenda this week, is partly designed to provide political justification for the “defensive” use of nuclear weapons. But it’s not that simple. Using nuclear weapons would mean near-total global isolation and suffocating sanctions (for one example, China would likely break with Russia in fear of losing any influence with Europe ). Putin must also contemplate possible direct Western military intervention as the cost of a nuclear attack — but with the attack offering no appreciable battlefield shift to Russia’s favor. And Putin’s generals might reject such an order , instead deposing their commander in chief.

Put another way, Putin has a problem.

Here’s What Will Happen When Putin Orders A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Putin Views Russian Arms On Display At Expo
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons in defense of Russian … [+]GETTY IMAGES

Here’s What Would Happen If Putin Ordered A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Robert Hart

Sep 30, 2022,08:36am EDT

TOPLINE

Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four occupied Ukrainian regions on Friday and has vowed to defend Russian territory by any means necessary, including using nuclear weapons, a drastic escalation that has sparked global outrage and ignited fears of a potential nuclear war.

KEY FACTS

While it’s hard to predict the specific details of a Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine, experts told Forbes that Moscow would most likely deploy tactical nuclear weapons— short-range devices designed for use on the battlefield—against troops or to destroy a logistics hub.

Tactical nuclear weapons are much smaller than the strategic long-range warheads designed to destroy cities, but power is relative—the largest tactical weapons can be as big as 100 kilotons (1 kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT)—the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons—and Dr. Rod Thornton, a security expert at King’s College London, told Forbes they can still be devastating.

Putin would be highly unlikely to target a Ukrainian city in an initial strike and would possibly avoid casualties altogether, Thornton said, explaining that a nuclear attack would mostly be a symbolic “signaling device” for Moscow to show it is serious and is willing to defend itself.

Predicting possible targets is difficult, Thornton said, though he floated Snake Island, a Black Sea outpost taken by Russia early in the war that has since been retaken and become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, as one Putin could have in mind.

The impact of a nuclear strike depends a lot on what type of weapon is used, how and where it is used and the conditions at the time, but even a low yield nuclear bomb could have far-reaching consequences, with radiation from the blast causing long-term health problems for survivors and radioactive fallout contaminating the environment and possibly drifting across Europe and Asia.

Radioactive fallout is a poor way to make the kind of statement Russia would want to make and could possibly backfire by drifting over Russia or unite people or nations against them, Thornton said, adding that Moscow would probably use a weapon designed to minimize fallout.

“On many fronts, Putin is under pressure,” Thornton told Forbes, pointing to losses in Ukraine, protests at home over mobilization and continued international opposition. “The more desperate Putin becomes, the more he’s pushed on the back foot, the more likely it becomes that a nuclear weapon is used,” he added. Choosing to use a nuclear weapon could pose new problems for Putin at home, Thornton said, and possibly spark opposition from the military or other key figures unwilling to escalate matters and possibly push NATO into directly supporting Ukraine.

NEWS PEG

Putin formally annexed four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine on Friday. The Kremlin says Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia backed joining Russia in a string of referendums held this week. The votes were widely viewed as a clear pretext for annexation and they have been widely denounced as an illegitimate “sham”, including by long standing allies of Moscow like Kazakhstan. UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday condemned Putin’s plans to annex the regions as a flagrant violation of international law and a “dangerous escalation.” The move follows Putin’s decision to order an immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian forces last week to shore up the flagging invasion, which triggered angry protests across the country and an exodus of people fleeing to neighboring countries to escape possible conscription. Putin said Moscow would defend its territory—which it says now includes the annexed regions—using all means at its disposal, including with nuclear weapons. Though he has threatened the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine many times before, Putin insisted he was not bluffing and other nations are treating the threat seriously.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and now the deputy chair of the country’s security council, has said the U.S. and its NATO allies are too afraid of a “nuclear apocalypse” to directly intervene in Ukraine, even if Moscow used nuclear weapons. It’s not clear how the rest of the world might respond. Putin’s comments have prompted India and China to break their long silence on the war in Ukraine and voice concern. NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned of “severe consequences” for Russia if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, echoing private warnings of “catastrophic consequences” from Washington. A retaliatory nuclear strike is possible but would mark a dramatic and dangerous escalation. More likely is a “devastating” NATO response using conventional weapons, said Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s foreign minister.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

A Russian nuclear attack would be unlikely to take the West completely by surprise, Thornton told Forbes. There would probably be a lot of “background noise” and “signals chatter” between various government and defense agencies that would be picked up by Western listening stations if Russia was planning to go nuclear, he explained. If the West did pick up on signals pointing towards a nuclear attack, Thornton said there would be a “massive increase in the diplomatic pressure put on Russia” to change course. There would also be significant diplomatic pressure on countries like China and India to take a stronger stance against Russia, he added, which could have more sway given Moscow’s reliance on them for energy exports.

BIG NUMBER

5,977. That’s how many nuclear warheads Russia has, according to an estimate by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Around 1,500 are retired and due to be dismantled, the organization says. Most of the remaining warheads are strategic—larger weapons that can be used over long distances—and the rest are smaller tactical weapons. Russia is believed to have more nuclear weapons than any other country. It is followed by the U.S., which has an estimated 5,428 warheads, according to FAS, and the two together have approximately 90% of all nuclear warheads. Seven other countries are known or widely believed to possess nuclear weapons: China (350), France (290), the U.K. (225), Pakistan (165), India (160), Israel (90) and North Korea (20).

Iranian Horn Kills Another American

Smoke rises from the Iraqi Kurdistan headquarters of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ strike on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

Iranian Missile Strikes Kill American Citizen, State Department Confirms

Adam Kredo • September 29, 2022 2:20 pm

An American citizen was killed on Wednesday during a series of Iran-orchestrated missile strikes in Iraq, the State Department confirmed on Thursday.

“We can confirm that a U.S. citizen was killed as a result of a rocket attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan region yesterday, but due to privacy considerations I don’t have any further comments to provide,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters during Thursday’s press briefing.

Reports emerged late Wednesday that an American citizen was killed after Iran-backed militants sponsored by the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a spate of missile attacks in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The State Department criticized the attacks, but would not say if it is taking any punitive measures, such as sanctions, as a result. The IRGC is one of the region’s top terror sponsors and has killed hundreds of Americans over the years.

Iran International, a regional media outlet, posted on Twitter what it said is a picture of the dead American citizen’s passport, which identified the individual as Omer Mahmoudzadeh.

The State Department would not confirm any of these details.

The Thirteenth Night of Protests in the Iranian Horn

Iran's unprecedented nationwide protests continued for a thirteen night last night

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022

The Thirteenth Night of Protests in Iran: Teargas and Anti-Khamenei Chants

IRANWIRE

Iran’s unprecedented nationwide protests continued for a thirteen night last night

Iran’s unprecedented nationwide protests continued for a thirteenth night on Tuesday with security forces attempting to disperse massive protests as demonstators called for an end to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s rule and theocratic dictatorship in Iran.

Women and girls in Narmak, Tehran, removed their headscarves at mass protests and chanted “Death to the dictator!” alongside male demonstrators.

The Islamic Republic has not seen such an extended wave of sustained protests since the 2009 Green Movement. And events have continued to escalate since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Saqqez, who died from head injuries after she was detained by Iran’s “morality police” for “improper hijab”.

IranWire spoke to three doctors at the time who said that from the evidence available, it was clear Mahsa had received blows to the head before she fell into the coma two hours into her detention.

A citizen journalist’s video from Zarrin Dasht, Fars province, showed security forces opening fire and launching tear gas at protesters.

In Gohardasht, Karaj, women removed their headscarves and chanted: “Pellets, firecrackers and mullahs must be thrown away!”

Protesters in Mashhad chanted “Death to the dictator!” while in Amirabad, Tehran, citizens shouted slogans against the regime from the windows of their homes.

Elsewhere in Sanandaj, Iranian Kurdistan, despite a massive military-style deployment of security forces trying to disperse them, protesters chanted one of the most popular slogans of the movement so far, “Woman, Life, Freedom!”

Security forces in Ekbatan, Tehran, fired warning shots at people’s homes in a bid to intimidate them out of shouting slogans from their windows. Videos sent to the Twitter account 1500tasvir, which monitors ongoing protests in Iran, also appeared to show people in the Tehranpars area in altercations with security forces well after dark.

A massive security presence was also reported in Chabahar, Sistan and Baluchistan province. Fresh protests broke out in Chabahar last night, further inflamed by news that a police chief had raped a 15-year-old girl in the city earlier in September.

Protesters in Chabahar, Sistan and Baluchistan province, set the local governor’s office on fire on the 12th night of protests in Iran over the death of #MahsaAmini in morality police custody amid a nationwide internet shutdown.#مهسا_امینی pic.twitter.com/SasxDtlQYq— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) September 28, 2022

In the city of Rasht, hundreds of people gathered in the city’s Sabze Square earlier in the day for the funeral of a local man killed during the protests, Behnam Layeghpour. People sang patriotic songs at sunset as women waved their headscarves in the air as a symbol of defiance.

Protests also continued in the city of Shiraz in Fars province, where an abrupt crackdown on women’s civil freedoms began earlier this summer. A video shared by Iran International last night showed a man setting fire to a banner of Ali Khamenei in front of the local intelligence department.

In Mashhad, a holy city for Shia Muslims and seat of power for many of the ruling clergy, a newly-released video showed a group of young men running straight at a row of police cars, forcing them into retreat.