Analyst: Putin's nuclear threat aimed at the West

Vladimir Juškin.
Vladimir Juškin. Source: ERR

Experts are disinclined to believe the Russian leadership's declarations concerning the size and nature of the mobilization. Nuclear threats are aimed at the West to help Putin save face at potential peace negotiations, Vladimir Juškin, director of the Baltic Center for Russia Studies, finds.

Putin's order for a partial mobilization, especially of military specialists, for a total of 300,000 troops does not convince experts, Firstly, because it is too vague, but mostly because the Russian brass has done too much lying.

"We have seen lying on a massive scale during the Ukraine war in which conscripts have fought. They have been taken prisoner by the Ukrainians. Then there are today's lies concerning the number of [Russian] casualties, who is issuing nuclear threats etc.," Col. Eero Rebo, head of the EDF Headquarters, said.

Military specialists know which troops the Russian side needs most right now.

"It is definitely not top specialists. What we are seeing instead is front line warfare a la WWI. What they are burning through are supervisors, machine gunners and infantrymen," Rebo suggested.

Russian expert Vladimir Juškin said that the mobilization coming at this time suggests that Putin's agents have assured him that the 300,000 reservists will not mutiny.

"They likely predicted that there would not be social upheaval. That is why he decided to go for it. But it is a very dangerous game for Putin. To stir up the already dissatisfied families of 300,000 people," Juškin suggested.

By annexing Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia's doctrine would allow it to use nuclear weapons to protect the regions. In this, Juškin perceives a threat aimed at the West and ending the war on his terms.

"Talks are being held on some out-of-sight level for how to end this war. A moratorium on Crimea belonging to Ukraine for 20 years. The same for Ukraine joining NATO at this time. Luhansk and Donetsk declared international protectorates. We [Russia] would pull out of remaining territories. That would allow Putin to serve it up as having fought NATO instead of Ukraine and it ending in a stalemate," Juškin said.

The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) is weighing which measures to take. Lithuania has placed its rapid reaction forces on high alert as the mobilization is underway in Kaliningrad. But Russia is mobilizing those they can get their hands on to reinforce the Ukraine front and replace units that need rest, not for an offensive.

"I do not hold it likely Estonia will have to go to war tomorrow. However, we should keep an eye on developments as the Putin regime has taken steps toward escalation," Col. Rebo said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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