How to react to Putin's nuclear threats?

After the sham referendums in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, their annexation is looming - along with a new threat: that the Kremlin will then consider these regions Russian territory and any attempts by Ukraine to regain control an attack on its sovereignty. Europe's press discusses how to react to Putin's warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend his country.

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Visão (PT) /

Moscow could make deterrence work in its favour

Once the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia are annexed the use of nuclear weapons is entirely possible, fears publicist Luís Delgado in Visão:

“No one accepts this annexation, but the Kremlin doesn't care. It is the next step in opening the door to the nuclear arsenal. ... Putin believes that deterrence, on which the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is based, will work in his favour. If he uses tactical nuclear weapons, the retaliation of the Americans, or Nato, will not be on the same level. For fear of escalation.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Russia does care about its image

The taz explains what should be done in response to the nuclear threat:

“The goal now must be to convince those countries Russia sees as partners to join an alliance against the use of nuclear weapons. Countries like China, Turkey, India and Kazakhstan must be persuaded to end their silence in the face of a potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia. Russia is not indifferent about its image in the world. Its release of prisoners of war who had been sentenced to death and the granting of Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden demonstrate this.”

El País (ES) /

New rules for warfare being defined

El País predicts that the Kremlin will up the pressure:

“The most harmless scenario would be a nuclear test near Ukraine, for example in the Black Sea, as a warning and without fatalities. ... This war will not only define the fate of Ukraine and the geostrategic nature of Europe, but also the rules of future warfare. If after being defeated on the conventional battlefield Putin manages to win with threats and even the unanswered use of a bomb, his example will set a precedent for a lawless world.”

Le Point (FR) /

No to nuclear blackmail

The West must not back down in the face of Putin's threats, Le Point demands:

“Putin's actions can be described with one word: blackmail. Donbass and Crimea, even if annexed, remain illegally occupied territories. Allowing borders in Europe to be moved by force under the threat of using weapons of mass destruction would lead straight to disaster. For if the Kremlin gets its way again in Donbass, after Crimea eight years ago, why should it stop there? The West, especially nuclear powers like the US and France, must make it clear to Russia that the use of nuclear weapons would have devastating consequences for the country. Vladimir Putin is neither mad nor suicidal.”

Le Matin Dimanche (CH) /

Heading for its third collapse

When Putin says he's not bluffing, he's bluffing, Le Matin Dimanche suspects:

“If Putin's statement has caused a stir it's because it marks a constant: the age-old Russian tendency, embedded in its society's DNA, to fabricate lies. ... And then see itself as a victim and believe it is stronger than it is - and consequently resort once more to lying at every level. In this country with the GDP of Italy and an army made up of exhausted soldiers and outdated artillery, Vladimir Vladimirovich is merely a product of this endless self-deception. This will all end as it always does: now, in a few months, or in a few years, there will be a third collapse. Russia has been bluffing for 100 years.”