Talking about a Russian nuclear escalation is risky, says Brit Raab

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice Raab walks outside the Cabinet Office in London
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab walks outside the Cabinet Office on February 7, 2022 in London, Britain. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

March 6, 2022

By William James

LONDON (Reuters) – British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab called talk of Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in its invasion of Ukraine risky and dismissed President Putin’s statement that compared Western sanctions to a declaration of war.

A week ago, Putin ordered his military command to put Russia’s deterrent forces – which include nuclear weapons – on high alert, citing aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow.

On Sunday, Russian media reported Ukraine was on the verge of building a plutonium-based “dirty bomb,” citing an unidentified source and no evidence.

“I think it’s rhetoric and brinkmanship,” Raab told Sky News when asked about a possible nuclear escalation by the Kremlin.

“[Putin’s]has a track record as long as each arm is misinformation and propaganda…this is a distraction from what the real problems are — that it’s an illegal invasion and not going according to plan,” Raab said.

He warned the conflict could last months, if not years, and when asked whether a temporary ceasefire in parts of Ukraine would hold, said he was skeptical of Russian promises.

Moscow calls its actions a “military special operation”. It wants to “demilitarize” and “denazify” its pro-Western neighbor and prevent Kyiv from joining NATO.

Britain’s Chief of Defense Staff stressed that the UK has its own defense and urged a calm response to any talk of nuclear weapons.

“We have to be very clear and we have to be calm and responsible and not respond to threats from President Putin,” Britain’s armed forces chief Tony Radakin told reporters.

“It’s an imperative that it doesn’t escalate even in conventional terms, and it would be insane if that started a path toward nuclear escalation.”

Raab dismissed Putin’s statement on Saturday that compared the West’s sanctions to a declaration of war.

“Sanctions are not an act of war, that is very clear in international law,” he said. “Our sanctions are both legally justified and proportionate to what we are trying to deal with.”

Raab also called on China and India to help increase diplomatic pressure on Russia.

“China has a job here. They also need to step up – this is a permanent member of the Security Council – and so does India. We have to increase the diplomatic pressure,” said Raab.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Catherine Evans and Elaine Hardcastle) Talking about a Russian nuclear escalation is risky, says Brit Raab

Bobby Allyn

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