Chances of 'cornered' Vladimir Putin going nuclear in Ukraine 'going up by the day': ex-CIA officer
The chances of Russian President Vladimir Putin using a nuclear weapon in his failing "special military operation" in Ukraine are increasing "by the day" as losses mount and his options dwindle, according to an ex-Central Intelligence Agency official with contacts inside Russia.
Retired agent Robert Baer explained to CNN on Tuesday that "I think the chances of his de-escalating are close to zero. I mean, he simply cannot give up so much ground and be seen to be losing and continue as leader of Russia."
Putin, Baer said, is "a strongman. He's portrayed himself as that for the last 20 years. He doesn't give into dissent. He's cornered. He is completely cornered, and like a shark, he's got to move forward. I just do not see him coming to the negotiating table agreeing to leave Donbas or Luhansk or whatever. I just do not see it happening," Baer told CNN.
"I mean, he's continued to resort to more force to more force to more force," he said. "He continues to bomb Ukrainian cities. He continues to grab people. He continues to hold onto ground, and I don't see him caving in at all."
Last week, Putin amped up his threat to deploy nuclear weapons in Ukraine if he feels that the security of Russia is in peril, and the sham referenda to join Russia that were conducted over the weekend in Russian-controlled Eastern Ukraine are viewed as the likely pretext for Putin to use atomic bombs to force Ukraine and its Western allies into submission.
President Joe Biden said in a statement on Friday:
The United States will never recognize Ukrainian territory as anything other than part of Ukraine. Russia’s referenda are a sham – a false pretext to try to annex parts of Ukraine by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter. We will work with our allies and partners to impose additional swift and severe economic costs on Russia. The United States stands with our partners around the world – and with every nation that respects the core tenets of the UN charter – in rejecting whatever fabricated outcomes Russia will announce. We will continue to support the Ukrainian people and provide them with security assistance to help them defend themselves as they courageously resist Russia’s invasion.
On Sunday, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan noted that "Putin knows he is losing" and that he would face "catastrophic consequences" if he exercises a nuclear option. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also confessed that he does not think that Putin is "bluffing," as did Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's presidential predecessor and the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
While the Kremlin has conceded that "mistakes were made" and confirmed that "sporadic" backchannel communications with the West are ongoing, Baer believes that Putin's desperation is grounds for disaster.
"The chances of his using nuclear weapons — at least tactical nuclear weapons — is going up by the day," Baer lamented.
"The Russians that I keep in touch with in Russia are convinced he's gonna go nuclear," he further cautioned. "I don't know how well-connected they are, but this threat – it was a threat initially – but the more trouble he's in, the more likely he's gonna use nuclear weapons. And I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't use a tac against the Ukrainian forces."
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