Risk of Putin using nuclear weapons rises as Ukraine succeeds: Menendez

The world faces a growing threat of Russia using nuclear weapons as the nation continues to grapple with losses in Ukraine, according to a US senator.

Bob Menéndez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about the prospect during an appearance on fox news sunday. The New Jersey Democrat said he fears Russian President Vladimir Putin may resort to nuclear weapons as the continued failure of his invasion of Ukraine damages his image among his people, calling the possibility “a real concern.”

“Well, one of my concerns is that, ironically, the more successful the Ukrainians are, the greater the risk that Putin will do something because he’s losing and has to save face at home,” Menendez told host Brett Baier. “And so the potential for a chemical, biological or tactical nuclear weapon can grow as a result of that.”

Menendez also expressed concern about the possibility of Putin deploying other weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine. In particular, he highlighted Russia’s chemical weapons stockpile and invoked the Russian military’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.

senator menéndez putin russia nukes
Sen. Bob Menendez expressed concern Sunday that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons amid its continuing failures in Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin (above) seeks “face saving.”
Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

“Understand that Putin did this in Syria,” Menendez added. “Unfortunately, the world didn’t care about Syria, but he used chemical weapons in Syria… so he’s capable of doing that.”

Experts and analysts recently said news week that Russian officials have been increasingly trying to prepare citizens for the possibility of war with NATO-aligned nations. Putin on Wednesday threatened “retaliatory strikes” that would be “lightning strikes” on any nation that poses a threat to Russia. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that “NATO essentially goes to war with Russia through a proxy and arms that proxy.”

“All along, internal Russian propaganda has emphasized that Russia is not at war with Ukraine, but with NATO and the West,” said Yuri Zhukov, an associate professor at the University of Michigan. news week. “Behind every Ukrainian military success, in this narrative, there is a NATO officer who tells the Ukrainian where, when and whom to shoot.”

Zhukov continued, explaining that such a framing of the Ukrainian conflict helps rationalize military failures before the Russian public, while also preparing them for the possibility of full-scale war in the near future.

Elsewhere in Sunday’s interview, Menendez called the conflict in Ukraine “a test for the West” as he took on the likes of Putin.

“I think what is having an even greater effect [than economic sanctions] is the West’s commitment to Ukraine,” the senator explained. “This is a test for the West [on] whether or not we will allow a country, in this case Russia led by Putin, to ultimately violate the international order and erase the borders of a country by force.”

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