The Kremlin on Tuesday reiterated some accusations which had been advanced earlier by President Vladimir Putin in the days leading up to the Feb.24 invasion of Ukraine, charging that the Kiev government is developing nuclear weapons with the support of the United States.
The nuclear allegations came this time from Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, who said according to Fox, citing state agencies, "The need for demilitarization is due to the fact that Ukraine, saturated with weapons, poses a threat to Russia, including from the point of view of the development and use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."
The words were issued the same day that the Pentagon slammed the growing 'nuclear rhetoric' out of Russia as "very dangerous and unhelpful" - in reference to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's Tuesday remarks that said the threat of nuclear confrontation with the West "is real".
"The danger is serious," Lavrov had said in a Russian media interview. "It is real. It should not be underestimated." This has led to further tit-for-tat accusations between Moscow and Kiev, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky giving a fresh speech that urged international powers to take 'global control' over Russia's thousands of nukes.
"Every year on April 26th, the world remembers the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear disaster in human history," Zelensky began as part of a Chernobyl commemoration event. "But this year it is not enough just to remember Chernobyl… because this year, Russia created new threats that could surpass even the worst accident."
He said of recent close calls when the Russian army allegedly fired on sensitive nuclear power plants during the Ukraine invasion "...today they launched three missiles against Ukraine so that they flew directly over the blocks of our nuclear power plants – over three nuclear power plants at once, over Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnytskyi, and South-Ukrainian NPPs." Zelensky added: "What is it? Are they threatening? There are no words."
That's when the Ukrainian leader called for "global control" over Russia's nuclear arsenal, without specifying how such an arrangement would be possible:
"We discussed all the dangers created by Russia and ways to possibly influence the situation to protect Europe and the world from completely irresponsible actions of the Russian Federation," the president said. He then called for a global takeover of Russia's nuclear capabilities.
"I believe that after all that the Russian military has done in the Chernobyl zone and at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, no one in the world can feel safe knowing how many nuclear facilities, nuclear weapons and related technologies the Russian state has," Zelenskyy said. "If Russia has forgotten what Chernobyl is, it means that global control over Russia's nuclear facilities, and nuclear technology is needed."
As for Moscow's recent allegations that Ukraine is overseeing a secret nuclear arms development program, which would surely be an extreme difficulty in the midst of invasion and war, the UN's nuclear watchdog has recently weighed in to say it sees no evidence to support this. Ukraine officially gave up its nuclear program thirty years ago.
Many people are celebrating Ukraine's unexpected battlefield successes against Russia.— Clint Ehrlich (@ClintEhrlich) April 23, 2022
In reality, NATO assistance to Ukraine is pushing us closer to nuclear war.
There's a clear path from where we are today to the first combat use of nukes since WW2.🧵 pic.twitter.com/nQ9jEPfcjz
Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba also reacted to Lavrov's fresh nuclear rhetoric, saying that Russia is trying to "scare the world off supporting Ukraine" by invoking the possibility of nuclear confrontation.
Leaders in the US and UK have this week still said they don't see the conflict ending in nuclear showdown...
#British Prime Minister Johnson was asked whether #Russia's military failures in #Ukraine might lead Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons there, and he answered, "No, I don't think so." pic.twitter.com/S6Q1t3pTv5— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 26, 2022
However, there's an emerging consensus that the world is closer than it's ever been (going back to comparisons with the Cuban Missile Crisis) of seeing this worst-case scenario nightmare actually play out, or at least coming very uncomfortably close to such a confrontation.