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Putin Presents Ukraine War as Existential Battle for Survival of Russia

One year after ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast the conflict with the West as an existential battle for the survival of Russia and its people. In an interview with Rossiya 1 state television, Putin said he was forced to take into account NATO’s nuclear capabilities in the context of the war. He described the West’s objective as disbanding the former Soviet Union and controlling the world’s biggest producer of raw materials.

NATO and the West have dismissed Putin’s narrative, with the aim of helping Ukraine defend itself against an unprovoked attack. Putin warned that the West’s plans had been put to paper, but did not specify where. He also suggested that the ethnic Russian majority was in danger of destruction.

Putin’s framing of the war as existential allows him to prepare the Russian people for a deeper conflict and provides him with greater freedom in the types of weapons he could use. Russia’s official nuclear doctrine allows for the use of nuclear weapons if they – or other types of weapons of mass destruction – are used against it, or if conventional weapons endanger “the very existence of the state.”

Putin has signalled that he is ready to rip up the architecture of nuclear arms control unless the West backs off in Ukraine. He has suspended a landmark nuclear arms control treaty and announced new strategic systems had been put on combat duty. Putin also warned that Moscow could resume nuclear tests, but said that Russia would only resume discussions once French and British nuclear weapons were also taken into account.

Putin said the biggest result of the past year was the unity of the Russian people. Russia has the world’s biggest store of nuclear warheads, more than the United States, France, and Britain combined, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of seeking to divide up Russia and control the world’s largest producer of raw materials, a move he says could lead to the destruction of many of Russia’s people, including the ethnic Russian majority. Putin’s comments come a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he is increasingly framing as a make-or-break moment in Russian history. He warned that the West’s plans to disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part – the Russian Federation – have been put to paper. The United States denies it wants to destroy Russia, but President Joe Biden has warned that a conflict between Russia and NATO could trigger World War III.

Putin cited the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. and European military assistance to Ukraine as evidence that Russia is now facing off against NATO itself. Ukraine, for its part, says it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Putin’s framing of the war as an existential battle allows him to rally the Russian people for a deeper conflict and gives him greater freedom in the types of weapons he could use in the future.

Russia’s official nuclear doctrine allows for the use of nuclear weapons if they are used against the state or if conventional weapons are used that endanger “the very existence of the state.” Putin has signaled that he is ready to rip up the architecture of nuclear arms control, including the big powers’ moratorium on nuclear testing, unless the West backs off in Ukraine. In a show of Russian resolve, Putin recently suspended a landmark nuclear arms control treaty, announced new strategic systems had been put on combat duty, and warned that Moscow could resume nuclear tests. He said Russia would only resume discussion once French and British nuclear weapons were also taken into account.

Russia, which inherited the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons, has the world’s largest store of nuclear warheads, more than the United States, France, and Britain combined, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Putin said the biggest result of the past year was the unity of the Russian people.

Monday Ashibogwu

Monday Michaels Ashibogwu is Editor-In-Chief of QUICK NEWS AFRICA, one of Nigeria's leading online news service.

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