Putin Vows Nuclear Threat Is ‘Not a Bluff’

“Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity—this is not a bluff,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a chilling national address that also blamed the West for the war in Ukraine and ordered reserve forces in Russia to mobilize for war.

The move comes “as Moscow seeks to buttress its army’s flagging manpower and regain the offensive following stinging losses on the battlefield,” notes the Wall Street Journal.

Putin repeated a number of now-common lies—about the current war being a mission to liberate Ukraine from neo-Nazis and about Western nations turning Ukrainians against Russia and fomenting war. “The goal of that part of the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country,” he said.

He also claimed that the West had “resorted to the nuclear blackmail,” with “some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries” making statements about “the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons—against Russia.”

“I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have,” said Putin. “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”

“Those who are using nuclear blackmail against us should know that the wind rose can turn around,” he continued. “It is our historical tradition and the destiny of our nation to stop those who are keen on global domination and threaten to split up and enslave our motherland. Rest assured that we will do it this time as well.”

Putin’s speech—which you can read, translated, in full—was followed by an address from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Russia was “at war not only with Ukraine and the Ukrainian army, but with the collective West.”

Shoigu said 300,000 reservists—excluding students—would be drafted to fight in Ukraine.

The draft follows a Tuesday announcement from “Kremlin proxies” in southern and eastern Ukraine that the areas would hold votes “referendums on annexation to Russia,” notes The New York Times. “The Kremlin signaled that if Russia were to go forward with annexation—even if no other countries recognized it—any further military action by Ukraine in those regions could be seen as an attack on Russia itself.”

A few perspectives on Putin’s speech:


FOLLOWUP

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FREE MINDS

The truth about deaths during incarceration. The official Department of Justice tally of deaths in state prisons and jails was almost 1,000 deaths short last year, says the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Reason‘s CJ Ciaramella looks at the new report here.

“The committee and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in the last year alone the department missed 990 prison and jail deaths that were reported on state websites, news articles, and other public databases,” notes Ciaramella. “The investigation was also frustrated, the report says, by the Justice Department’s lack of full cooperation. It refused to provide all the records the subcommittee requested.”


FREE MARKETS

Juul sues for FDA records. “Juul Labs on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration over the agency’s refusal to disclose documents supporting its order to take Juul’s e-cigarettes off the shelves in the US market,” reports Axios. “Juul accused the FDA of violating the Freedom of Information Act by holding a majority of the ‘scientific disciplinary reviews’ underlying the sales ban, according to the complaint filed in a court in Washington, DC.”

“The public deserves a complete picture of the scientific facts behind one of the agency’s most controversial and closely scrutinized decisions in recent years, especially where even FDA recognizes its order is suspect,” says Juul’s complaint.


QUICK HITS

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The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf asks what public schools should teach children about gender.

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• The government can’t fix social media moderation and shouldn’t try, writes Jacob Sullum.

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