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Putin’s ‘catalyst’ for firing nukes in Ukraine as expert draws ‘terminal’ line

An expert has revealed what would make Vladimir Putin use nuclear weapons in Ukraine – because the cost of losing certain land would be "terminal" to his regime.

Dr Frank Ledwidge, a senior lecturer in law and strategy at the University of Portsmouth, told the Daily Star that he thinks the rattled Russian President could go nuclear, if Ukraine re-took Crimea.

In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula, taking it from Ukraine.

READ MORE: Russia has 'moved 10 aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Belarus'

Speaking after Putin moved nuclear-capable weapons into client state Belarus, Dr Ledwidge said: "For any nuclear option on the part of Putin, the only person who knows anything about that is Putin. Anybody else who’s guessing, is just guessing.

"It’s one person in the world who knows what will happen if, let’s say, the Ukrainians get to a position where they’re poised to retake Crimea – only one person knows what will happen."

Kyiv has repeatedly said that taking the peninsula back from Russia is one of its key war aims, and Dr Ledwidge said the cost to the Kremlin would be "terminal".

"That’s the only possible catalyst for using these weapons. The cost to Russia would be terminal," he said.

Dr Ledwidge added: "But I don’t think it’s likely. I can’t go inside Putin’s head, I don’t know. I can only speak with a rational calculation, but Putin will know that’s the end of his regime and the end of Russia as a military concern."

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The world reacted with anxiety when, late last month, Putin moved 10 aircraft to Belarus that are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons.

"We agreed with [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko that we would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus without violating the non-proliferation regime," Mr Putin said.

And despite being a "dangerous move", Dr Ledwidge said there was an overreaction because Russia announced they would do it in June 2022.

"It is a dangerous move, it’s not helping, it’s a ratcheting up but we’ve known this for nearly a year," he explained.

"They’re moving nuclear weapons into a client state, that is a proliferative activity, however, it’s worth saying that they will remain under the custody of Russian troops."

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