Ex-CIA officer says Putin is ‘completely cornered’ and the chances of him using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine are increasing ‘by the day’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the launch of the construction of new nuclear submarines and other warships via video conference on the side of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the launch of the construction of new nuclear submarines and other warships via video conference on the side of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
  • An ex-CIA officer said Putin has been backed into a corner over his months-long war in Ukraine.
  • Robert Baer told CNN that the Russian leader is unlikely to deescalate, given all his setbacks.
  • Baer also said the chances that Putin turns to tactical nuclear weapons are increasing.

As military setbacks in Ukraine force Russian President Vladimir Putin into a corner, the odds that he turns to tactical nuclear weapons continue to increase, an ex-CIA officer said.

“I think the chances of his de-escalating are close to zero … he simply cannot give up so much ground and be seen to be losing and continue as leader of Russia,” Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer, told CNN on Tuesday.

“The chances of his using nuclear weapons — at least tactical nuclear weapons — is going up by the day,” Baer added.

Ukrainian forces have recently liberated thousands of square miles of territory previously under Russian occupation in counteroffensives along the war’s eastern and southern fronts — a move that appears to have sparked a shift in Putin’s approach to the seven-month-long conflict.

Last week, the Russian leader delivered a rare televised address in which he announced the partial military mobilization of his country’s reservists, paving the way for more troops to deploy to Ukraine. Immediately after, Russians took to the streets and protested against the war. Many fled the country by any means necessary, fearing a call-up to fight.

The Kremlin admitted on Monday that it made mistakes when selecting draftees who would be sent to Ukraine and said it hopes mobilization will speed up once the issue is fixed.

But battlefield setbacks in Ukraine and domestic pressure within Russia won’t have any impact on the Russian president, who is unlikely to withdraw troops and negotiate an end to the war, Baer said.

Russia Police officers, one of them with letter "Z" on his uniform, a symbol of support of the military invasion in Ukraine, detains a protester during an unsanctioned1 anti-war protest rally at Arbat street, on September 21, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.
Russia Police officers, one of them with letter “Z” on his uniform, a symbol of support of the military invasion in Ukraine, detains a protester during an unsanctioned anti-war protest rally at Arbat street, on September 21, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.Photo by Contributor/Getty Images

“He’s a strongman — he’s portrayed himself that for the last 20 years — he doesn’t give into dissent. He’s cornered. He is completely cornered, and like a shark, he’s got to move forward,” Baer told CNN “He continues to bomb Ukrainian cities. He continues to grab people. He continues to hold onto ground, and I don’t see him caving in at all.”

During Putin’s mobilization announcement, he also threatened to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, baselessly accused Western countries of provoking him with “nuclear blackmail,” and stated that his remarks are not a bluff. Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, equipped with strategic nuclear weapons — which can be used on cities — and tactical nuclear weapons — which can be used on the battlefield.

“Russians that I keep in touch with in Russia are convinced he’s going to go nuclear,” Baer told CNN. “I don’t know how well-connected they are, but this threat — it was a threat initially — but the more trouble he’s in, the more likely he’s going to use nuclear weapons.”

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Monday that Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling,” among other things like mobilization, signal “very clearly that he knows he is losing.”

“He’s on his back heels. And he’s making every attempt to intimidate those who would stand up to him,” Price said. “We – along with our allies and partners around the world – are not going to bow to intimidation.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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