Russian President Vladimir Putin is feared to be planning a nuclear test on the border with Ukraine — while officials in Kyiv are already handing out potassium iodine pills to protect against a possible nuke strike.
NATO has issued an intelligence report to its members and allies warning that the Kremlin is planning to test so-called “doomsday” Poseidon nuclear torpedo drones, according to The Times of London.
Putin plans to test it near the Ukraine frontier as proof he is willing to make good on his threat to “use all the means at our disposal,” including weapons of mass destruction, sources told the paper.
The reported warning comes as Russia is believed to have deployed some of its nuclear arsenals, including the world’s largest submarine, the Belgorod, which is capable of carrying the so-called “weapon of the apocalypse” Poseidon nukes.
A train spotted carrying weaponry to the frontlines was also thought to be run by the shadowy force responsible for the Kremlin’s nuclear arsenal.
A senior UK defense source told the Times that Putin will most likely display his readiness to use nukes somewhere in the Black Sea.
However, it is “not impossible” that Putin could fire a smaller, tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine itself, the report said.
That carries extra risk because “they could misfire and accidentally hit a Russian city close to the Ukrainian border, such as Belgorod,” the source added,
Putin has insisted he is “not bluffing” with his readiness to use his nuclear arsenal, and US officials have made clear they are taking the threats seriously.
Officials in Ukraine’s capital are also already taking steps to prepare for a possible strike there.
The city council of Kyiv said it is providing evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills, which can help block the absorption of harmful radiation by the thyroid gland if taken close to a nuclear attack.
The pills will be distributed to residents in areas contaminated by nuclear radiation if there is a need to evacuate, the city council said in a statement.
Experts believe Putin is clearly “getting desperate” amid humiliating failures on the battlefield.
“Given the quality of the decision-making in the Kremlin at the moment, nothing should be discounted,” James Rogers, director of research at the Council on Geostrategy, told the UK Times.
Others still hope that the escalation of rhetoric and movement of nuclear arms is just a warning to the West to keep out of Russia’s brutal war on its neighbor.
However, if Putin does launch a nuclear attack, it would “open up Pandora’s box” if NATO uses nukes in return, nuclear weapons expert Professor Andrew Futter told the Times.
“If the West uses nuclear weapons in response you really don’t know what comes next,” he warned.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last week Washington had warned Moscow of “catastrophic consequences” if it used nuclear arms.
Russia is the world’s biggest nuclear power, with 5,977 warheads to the US’ 5,428, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
When it comes to tactical nuclear weapons — less powerful than the big bombs that could destroy large cities — Russia has about 10 times the number the US has.
Andrey Baklitskiy, a senior researcher at the UN’s Institute for Disarmament Research, stressed that nukes “are not something that you just employ and they solve all your problems.”
Using them remains “one of the biggest decisions in the history of Earth.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to discuss the alleged NATO warning, dismissing the Times of London report as Western exercises in “nuclear rhetoric.”
Russia’s threats come as North Korea fired a ballistic missile over neighboring Japan for the first time in five years early Tuesday.
With Post wires