Day 220 of the Invasion of Ukraine: The West Reacts to Putin’s Speech and his Nuclear Threats
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Putin at a rally on Red Square: Russia created modern Ukraine! Victory is ours
"I can't help but recall how the Soviet Union was formed when Russia created modern Ukraine. Russia created modern Ukraine!". This was stated by Russian President Vladimir Putin from a stage built on Red Square in Moscow.
He called the day (yesterday) "without any exaggeration a historic day - a day of truth and justice", the BBC reported.
Putin invited those present to send the residents of the annexed Ukrainian territories "a signal of our support, respect and admiration for their self-sacrifice". "I suggest that we do it loudly - so that the voice of Red Square can be heard thousands of kilometers away," suggested the president, after which the crowd shouted "Hurrah! (Ура)" three times.
On the square, Soviet and Russian songs, familiar from the films about the Second World War, called in Russia the “Patriotic War”, under which style Russian propaganda is trying to promote the war in Ukraine, were playing.
The "patriotic mood" in Red Square was raised by far-right nationalist actor Ivan Okhlobystin, a former Orthodox priest who was stripped of his priesthood by the Russian Orthodox Church and who is banned from entering Ukraine. Falling into some kind of hysteria, Okhlobystin tried to inspire the audience and declare war on the whole world. American Russian media analyst Julia Davis shared a fragment of the speech and commented on the nationalist's appearance as follows: Crazed Russian celeb tells the "Old world" to tremble, because Russia is coming with its "holy war."
"Sooner or later what everyone expects will happen. Sooner or later we will win. Now there is an opinion that soon the special military operation will be renamed to the anti-terrorist operation, some say that it will even be the Patriotic War, but I think that this is also not enough. It is rightly called the Holy War. Holy war! There is such an old Russian interjection "goyda", meaning a call to immediate action. Ah, how we miss such battle calls now. Goyda, brothers and sisters. Come on! Fear, Old World, devoid of true beauty, true faith, true wisdom, ruled by madmen, perverts and Satanists. Fear, we are coming! Goyaaada! Goyaaada!”
Crazed Russian celeb tells “the Old World” to tremble, because Russia is coming with its “holy war.” The crowd is not very enthusiastic.— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) September 30, 2022
"Russia must understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be started"
"Putin's nuclear rhetoric is dangerous... We are watching what Russia is doing. It must understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be started," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference, quoted by the BBC.
The reason for the press conference was the annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine announced yesterday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yesterday, he announced four new subjects of the Russian Federation: the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and the occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in Ukraine. Referendums held under the guns of the Russian occupiers were cited as the basis for this. According to Putin, millions voted in these territories and declared their right to historical self-determination.
Stoltenberg added that the members of the Alliance do not recognize the annexation of the Ukrainian territories. "These lands are Ukraine. Donetsk is Ukraine, Luhansk is Ukraine, Kherson is Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia is Ukraine. Just like Crimea is Ukraine," stressed the NATO Secretary General.
"NATO will continue to support Ukraine in its struggle," he said, describing the current escalation as the most serious since the beginning of the war.
Stoltenberg pointed out that Russia is seizing Ukrainian territories by force for the second time, but emphasized that NATO is not a party to the conflict. "Ukraine has the right to take back the Ukrainian territories", Jens Stoltenberg is categorical. According to him, the countries of the Alliance support the right of Kyiv to go its own way, but "the question of its acceptance into NATO must be decided by consensus of all 30 member countries of the Alliance".
"We want to prevent an escalation of tensions. We support Ukraine, but at the same time we prevent an escalation by sending a clear message to Moscow about the dangers of nuclear rhetoric and the consequences of using nuclear weapons, and by demonstrating our readiness to defend and protect all allies, by increasing the presence of NATO troops in the eastern part of the Alliance," Stoltenberg added.
The Secretary General called on all countries to reject Russian attempts to seize territories. "If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent, sovereign state in Europe," Stoltenberg also said.
"De facto, we have already entered NATO. De facto, we have already proven our compatibility with the Alliance's standards. They are real for Ukraine - they are real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday.
Podolyak: The Kremlin's treaty to annex Ukrainian land will not stop our counteroffensive
The treaty signed by the Kremlin on the annexation of the DPR, LPR, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions will not affect the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces and the counter-offensive.
This was stated by the adviser of President Volodymyr Zelensky - Mihail Podolyak, to "Rain" TV.
"There are no legal procedures that Russia would conduct in the occupied territories. There is international law that clearly interprets whose territories these are. These are occupied territories where the army of the occupier is located, which can and must be destroyed through legal procedures of liberation. This includes Crimea as well. We can use all the weapons provided by our partners on its entire territory," Podolyak said categorically.
He also noted the importance of Ukraine's candidacy for NATO membership.
"Yesterday, Ukraine finally put an end to Putin's burning ideas to destroy the country. Yesterday, the last nail was driven in Putin's initiative called a special military operation. The candidacy for NATO membership means that Putin has finally done everything according to plan - Ukraine has finally separated from the Russian Federation," Podolyak said.
Zelensky canceled the demobilization
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky canceled the fall conscription and postponed demobilization.
This is stated in Decree No. 678 of September 30, which enters into force on the day of its publication. It amends the decree of December 29, 2021 on the demobilization of conscripts and the deadlines for regular demobilization in 2022.
The clauses of the decree for the demobilization planned for October-December are supplemented with the words that it will not take place before the announcement of the demobilization.
At the same time, conscription in October-December was canceled.
In April, Zelensky canceled spring conscription in the army and postponed spring demobilization.
Then the General Staff noted that during the general mobilization, vacant positions in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations were filled by conscripts and reservists.
The adviser to the head of the presidential office Mykhailo Podolyak stated at the end of September 2022 that Ukraine does not plan to announce additional mobilization against the background of the fake "referendums" in the temporarily occupied territories, UNIAN reminds.
ISW sees two scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin rushed to illegally annex Ukrainian territories to stabilize Russia and buy time to rebuild his forces for the next offensive, the Institute for the Study of War believes.
A report from the institute says:
"The illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions does not mean that Putin has abandoned his stated goal of destroying the Ukrainian state for a lesser goal. If the annexation stabilizes the conflict along new front lines, the Kremlin can regain its strength and resume its invasion of Ukraine in the coming years, but then from a position of greater strength and territorial advantage."
At the same time, analysts saw no indication in Putin's Sept. 30 speech that Russia intends to immediately use nuclear weapons against Ukraine if the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues.
Analysts cited by UNIAN note that the Russian president has not indicated any "red lines". Moreover, during this war, the Ukrainian armed forces repeatedly "violated" the Kremlin's pre-announced "lines" by striking military facilities in the Russian border areas.
Putin wants to freeze the conflict on the current front line and allow time for the mobilization of Russian forces to be rebuilt, analysts conclude.
However, the Institute for the Study of War said it could not predict when the Russian Federation might use nuclear weapons, as it was "Putin's personal decision".
Instead of threatening to use nuclear weapons, the Kremlin will try to achieve its goals through partial mobilization and a winter energy push.
However, Putin will not be able to stabilize the front and freeze the conflict with untrained recruits, analysts say.
However, if Putin tries to strike Ukraine with nuclear weapons (i.e. an attack on one or more cities or critical infrastructure), it will not force Ukraine or the West to surrender, but rather a "grand adventure" will begin.
According to analysts, Putin has two main options for using tactical nuclear weapons: strikes at key ground lines of communication and command posts to paralyze a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and/or strikes at large concentrations of Ukrainian forces near the contact line. However, "a single nuclear weapon will not be decisive against any of these targets."
"Putin will clearly need to use several tactical nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory to achieve significant results and undermine Ukraine's ability to mount a counteroffensive. The scale of the use of nuclear weapons is likely to increase the risk of a retaliatory strike by the West, which , in turn, will increase the potential losses that Putin will have to weigh against the short-term benefits," the analysis said.
Analysts, therefore, point out that Russia's use of nuclear weapons would be a huge gamble for limited gains that would fail to achieve Putin's stated military goals.
At best, Russia's use of nuclear weapons would freeze the frontline within its current borders, but would not allow it to seize all of Ukraine.
In addition, NATO is likely to respond to Russia's use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine with conventional strikes against Russian positions, the report added.
On September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would use all available means in the event of a perceived threat to Russia's territorial integrity.
Russian blackmail continued on September 25, when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the extension of the nuclear doctrine to territories that Russia wants to annex after fake "referendums".
The US has warned Russia of "catastrophic consequences" if it uses nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
Vladimir Zelensky stated that the nuclear threats of Russian President Vladimir Putin are not a bluff, but the first steps of such blackmail. He believes the world is currently holding him back and should continue to pressure him not to allow such rhetoric to be used.
The US condemns Russia's fake annexations
US President Joe Biden condemned Russia's "fake" annexations of four regions in Ukraine and said Moscow was violating international law.
"The United States condemns today's bogus attempt by Russia to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the Charter of the United Nations, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations around the world," Biden said in a statement.
"The United States will always respect Ukraine's internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine's efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its forces militarily and diplomatically, including through the additional $1.1 billion in security assistance that the United States announced this week," Biden said.
Russian veto of UN resolution condemning referendums in Ukrainian regions
Russia vetoed a UN resolution condemning the referendums in four Ukrainian regions, which the Kremlin claimed yesterday as part of Russia.
In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a request for Ukraine's accelerated admission to NATO. US President Joe Biden has warned Russia that the US will defend "every centimeter" of the alliance's territory.
The resolution against the referendums in the Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia in the 15-member UN Security Council was supported by 10 countries, with China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstaining.
The vote came hours after a lavish Kremlin ceremony in which Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were now part of Russia and would be protected by Moscow, with their residents becoming Russian citizens forever.
Most of the speech was devoted to criticism against the West:
"The entire unipolar world order is actually anti-democratic and unfree! The United States is the only country in the world that has used nuclear weapons twice."
Putin indicated that he was ready to negotiate for peace in Ukraine, but made it a condition that the Kyiv authorities recognize Russian sovereignty over the four regions.
In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a request for Ukraine's accelerated admission to NATO. Zelensky rules out peace talks while Vladimir Putin is at the helm of Russia:
"Our country has always offered Russia to live side by side, in equal, honest, dignified and fair conditions. We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia."
After a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, Zelensky confirmed the determination of Ukrainians to expel all occupiers from their lands. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted that Ukraine is de facto already in the alliance, but it must be formed de jure as well.
The Ukrainian army tightened the ring around the Russian troops in the area of the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region.
30 civilians were killed in a rocket attack on the outskirts of the Kyiv-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia.
The annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a sign that he is having difficulties, said US President Joe Biden. In a speech at the White House, Biden stressed that Washington and its allies will not be intimidated by Putin.
There is a risk that Vladimir Putin will resort to nuclear weapons, but there are no signs of such an "imminent" use, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. He added that US military forces in Europe are ready for "any contingencies" as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalates the war in Ukraine. Next week, Washington will announce a new "immediate" arms delivery to Kyiv.
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