Is Putin bluffing with his warning to the West?

The three Baltic states have been independent since the 1990s. And they want to stay that way.

Especially now that Ukraine has been worried since the start of the war that US intelligence warnings about Russian aggression have not been taken seriously.

That is why what Vladimir Putin said to officials in St. Petersburg sounds very alarming: he warned that if someone intervened directly in the war, Russia would react immediately: “We have all the necessary tools for this,” said the Kremlin chief. “And we will use them if necessary. I want everyone to know that. ”The relevant decisions have already been made.

More than swinging scarecrows?

But what are these solutions? Russia’s independent military expert Yuri Fedorov does not rule out the possibility that Putin was referring to nuclear weapons, because he has made it very clear that he has nuclear weapons, especially the United States and Britain.

Fedorov told the State Duma that “Putin and his advisers are convinced that Ukraine cannot be defeated with conventional weapons. The Kremlin views nuclear weapons as the ultima ratio, as a weapon that will decide the outcome of the war.

In addition to nuclear weapons, Putin may have had in mind the Russian hypersonic missile Zircon, a ship-based missile that attacks naval targets and is known in NATO specifications as SS-N-33. Zircon missiles fly fast but do not have a long-range, Fyodorov explains – they reach no more than 300-400 kilometers: “However, Putin likes them very much and is proud of them.”

However, the military expert doubts the effectiveness of these missiles: “High speed is important for hitting mobile naval targets, but most land targets are stationary, so high missile speed does not play a big role there. In addition, when entering the Earth’s atmosphere, Zircon rockets must reduce their speed again, because otherwise, they would burn out, “he said.

Is Putin at a dead end?

According to Andrei Kolesnikov of the former Carnegie Moscow Center, which was closed by order of the Russian government in April 2022, Putin’s words were a reaction to a meeting at the US military base Rammstein in Germany. “Everything he says is not strategic, but rather tactical and opportunistic. Depending on the situation, Putin may change his plans. “Perhaps he has no fixed goals, but he can adjust them to the situation – depending on what is happening on the front and in the West,” he said.

According to Kolesnikov, Putin is undoubtedly stuck at a dead end, which is why he is reacting more and more brutally. His rhetoric is also becoming more brutal: “He has never been particularly inclined to engage in dialogue, but in the current situation, negotiations on him are entirely optional.”

Putin – a book tiger?

Independent Russian political expert Abbas Galyamov considers Putin’s words to be pure propaganda and compares the Russian president to a tiger: “But everyone has already understood that this is a book tiger. He needs to show everyone that this is not true, but he is not able to. So all he has left is rhetoric. His words are an attempt to convince at least part of the target audience that the Kremlin boss is still a strong figure.

Galyamov summed up the situation as follows: “Putin’s mistake is that he still thinks that his words have some weight.”

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