Vladimir Putin has been warned that his rag tag army of exhausted conscripts and demoralised mercenaries are in no fit state for him to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in the Ukraine.
General David H. Petraeus, a former top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that although regular troops had historically been trained to operate on a nuclear battlefield, the Russian president’s current forces were not up to the task.
General Petraeus added that the localised nuclear option – which many see as a last desperate throw of the dice by Putin – would also render the affected areas as impassable to Russian forces, choking off the supply chain to his war machine.
Writing on LinkedIn, as part of his regular Ukrainian update from the Institute for the Study of War, where he is a board member, the former CIA director said Putin had been reportedly micro-managing Russian commanders on the ground.
If those reports are correct this will only heighten the pressure now being piled on Putin to revert to the nuclear option as a response to a series of increasingly humiliating defeats by Ukrainian forces, the latest of which saw the liberation of Lyman, Donetsk Oblast.
In a posting to his 2.8 million followers on his Telegram channel, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov urged Moscow to use low-yield nuclear weapons in the Ukraine, after blasting the leadership of the troops on the ground as “mediocre.”
“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov said.
He added that there is “no place for nepotism in the army” and called Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, who is in charge of Russia’s forces fighting in the region, “mediocre.”
Reflecting the in-depth research of the Institute for the Study War, General Petraeus believes the deployment of nukes would make little difference in the conflict, potentially even worsening the situation for Russia.
“The Russian military in its current state is almost certainly unable to operate on a nuclear battlefield even though it has the necessary equipment and has historically trained its units to do so,” he said. “The chaotic agglomeration of exhausted contract soldiers, hastily mobilized reservists, conscripts, and mercenaries that currently comprise the Russian ground forces could not function in a nuclear environment.
“ Any areas affected by Russian tactical nuclear weapons would thus be impassable for the Russians, likely precluding Russian advances.”
According to EU estimates, around 220,00 Russians have fled across its borders into neighbouring countries since Putin’s “partial mobilization” was accounted. The exodus is being blamed on Russian president’s conscription drive for 300,000 extra troops and, as National Security News revealed, could see Britons with dual nationality called up to the front line.
With acknowledged experts such as General Petraeous ruling out any advantage from deploying tactical nuclear weapons, and the likely huge international fall-out such an action would begin, Putin’s options are increasingly narrowing.
As military defeats in the Ukraine pile on the pressure, the picture at home is worsening too. Last week a poll said one in three Russians now opposed the conflict. Should that prove accurate then that means 40 million Russians do not want the war to continue.
Russia was forced to withdraw its troops from the key Eastern Ukrainian town of Lyman on Friday, after they were encircled by Ukrainian forces. Lyman has been a key logistical hub for Russia, and now afford the Ukrainians direct access to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Video footage shared on social media showed Ukrainian soldiers waving their national flag on the outskirts of the town.
Although the blue and yellow colours were flying in Lyman again, fighting was “still going on” there, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening video address.