Analyst Says Putin Is Making Case to Use Chemical, Nuclear Weapons

( A former NPR Moscow correspondent wrote an op-ed in Politico last week warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin might consider the use of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Writing at Politico, Lawrence Scott Sheets said after watching Russia’s Channel One evening news broadcast “Vremya,” and listening to President Putin’s speech last Wednesday, he noticed that Russian propaganda is consistently accusing the West of stockpiling biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons in Ukraine to use against Russia.

After spending years working in and around the former Soviet Union, Sheets knows that Russian propaganda routinely accuses the enemy of doing something Russia is planning to do. The goal, Sheets explains, is to shift the blame domestically away from Russia and toward the enemy.

What adds to his concern, Sheets wrote, is some of President Putin’s senior advisors have recently vanished, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who has “been absent for days.” Sheets noted that not one member of Russia’s National Security Council showed up on the bank of TV monitors during Putin’s speech, leading him to conclude that they’ve either all “taken impromptu vacations” or Putin had them banished.

Sheets posits that Shoigu’s absence, in particular, may suggest that Putin is planning to use him as a scapegoat should the need arise.

According to Sheets, it is also possible that Vladimir Putin might be moving the goalposts on what constitutes a Russian victory. He said propaganda on Russian television is rarely mentioning Kyiv anymore. Instead, the emphasis is on “liberating” the Donbas region while protecting Crimea.

While speaking from his pretend stage set on Monday, President Biden warned that Putin may be intending to use chemical weapons in Ukraine. He also warned that Putin might launch cyberattacks against the United States.

Biden claimed Putin’s “back is against the wall” because Ukraine’s military has been “wreaking havoc on the Russian military,” making Putin more desperate.

The president also confirmed the Kremlin’s Saturday claim that it used a hypersonic missile in Ukraine.

Echoing what Sheets wrote at Politico, Biden said that when Putin accuses NATO or the United States of planning something, “it means he’s getting ready to do it.”