Ukrainian military chief says ‘limited’ nuclear war cannot be ruled out

Ukraine’s military chief warned on Wednesday that a ‘limited’ nuclear war between Russia and the West cannot be ignored, a scenario with serious global implications.

“There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian Armed Forces,” Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote in an article published by Ukrinform, a state media outlet. “It is also impossible to completely exclude the possibility of direct involvement of the world’s leading countries in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict, in which the prospect of a Third World War is already directly visible.”

Zaluzhnyi also admitted for the first time that Kyiv was behind strikes deep inside the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula in August. The airbases and ammunition depots that were hit were in areas previously thought out of reach for Ukraine, but were part of its strategy to shift “the Russian military’s center of gravity “, Zaluzhnyi wrote.

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With fighting almost certain to continue until 2023, Ukraine has to make the war “even sharper and more tangible for the Russians and for the other occupied regions, despite the considerable distance separating them from the targets”, Zaluzhnyi wrote.

He called the Crimean strikes a “compelling example” of Kyiv’s calls for allies to send longer-range weapons to its underarmed soldiers. Moscow, he said, can strike 20 times further.

The military chief’s assessment comes as Ukraine’s armed forces claim to retake small areas in counter-offensives in the south and east of the country – fighting that is wreaking havoc among Ukrainian soldiers, who are face heavy losses against Russia’s most advanced weapons and technologies.

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Zaluzhnyi’s warning follows weeks of international alarm over a potential disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear facility, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. Russian authorities control the plant, with more than 1,000 Ukrainian workers trying to keep it running and connected to their country’s power grid despite frequent bombings.

The UN’s atomic watchdog called on Tuesday to a safety zone there to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he supported the idea if it meant Russian troops would leave. Both sides accused the other of firing rockets and heavy artillery around the factory.

Zaluzhnyi said Russia’s use of the plant as a military base showed its contempt for global nuclear safeguards “even in conventional warfare”.

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Ukraine’s candidacy for membership of the European Union and NATO partly triggered the invasion of Russia February 24. But Washington and its European allies have flatly refused to provide Ukraine with any military support that could drag it into a direct confrontation with Russia.

After failing to capture the capital in the first weeks of the war, Russia focused on capturing Ukrainian territory linking east to south – the Donbass region, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014, south of the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed. the same year.

Ukraine recently launched its counter-offensives aimed at retaking Kherson, a strategic southern port city, and Russian-occupied areas along the border in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

However much of central and western Ukraine remains largely unscathed, Russian cruise missiles are still a threat and could strike across the country with “impunity”, Zaluzhnyi wrote. “As long as the current situation persists, this war can last for years.”

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