Russian dictator Vladimir Putin could opt to unleash nuclear weapons if Ukraine manages to liberate Kherson, Russian political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky said in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Olena Trybushna on July 8.
“Putin will react to attempts to seize Kherson as an existential threat to Russia – as he considers that to be part of Russia already – and would be ready to use nuclear weapons,” Piontkovsky said, quoting Alexei Venediktov, former editor-in-chief, host and co-owner of recently banned Russian radio station Echo of Moscow.
Piontkovsky suggested Venediktov is a credible source, as he is known to associate with numerous Kremlin officials.
“Venediktov couldn’t come up with that on his own – he’s too concerned with his role of a civil society representative (among the Russian elites),” said Piontkovsky.
“Meaning, these conversations took place, further indicating their despair and madness… (Putin) has nothing left but nukes. But even if he annihilates, says, Lviv with a nuclear strike, killing a million people – what that would change in this war?”
Russia intends to stage a sham referendum in occupied Kherson Oblast, in a bid to legitimize the conquest, according to a recent assessment by UK military intelligence. Ukrainian officials suggest the process could stretch into the fall.