Any attempt Vladimir Putin makes to carry out a nuclear strike against Ukraine and the West could lead to him being killed by his own generals, an expert has claimed.
Professor Peter Duncan at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) shared his views with the Daily Express as sham referendums were staged by Moscow in large areas of Ukraine that are now expected to be annexed by Russia.
Putin's thinly-veiled nuclear threats accompanied the state address earlier this week in which he confirmed that 300,000 reservists would be conscripted for the war in Ukraine.
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But, whether the Russian president is bluffing or does not understand the peril of his own situation if he commanded the pulling of the nuclear trigger, is unclear with Prof Duncan saying: "The bottom line is that Putin is isolated from reality.
"He just doesn't understand either about Russia, what people think in Russia, or about what people think abroad, which is, in other words, everywhere. And that's why he makes mistake after mistake."
Prof Duncan added that Putin's allies and security services deliberately mislead him about the Russian army's struggles in Ukraine, declaring: "It's still this old problem that people are afraid to tell him the truth, so he just doesn't know what's going on."
Any nuclear strike ordered by Putin would need to be obeyed by his military commanders – namely Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov.
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But Prof Duncan believes that moment would spell the end for Putin, reasoning: "I still think that if Putin did begin to use nuclear weapons – or if he did actually tell Shoigu and Gerasimov to use nuclear weapons – not just deploy them, but use them somewhere in Ukraine, I think it's entirely likely that [they] would refuse and then they would have to move against Putin and kill him because they would be disobeying an order.
"Not that it is that easy to kill Putin – they'd have to get the people in the FSB to help them kill Putin."
However, should nuclear weapons be used against Ukraine, Prof Duncan reckons it would prompt a "massive conventional attack on Russian forces" from the West.
He also feels that Putin would avoid using nuclear weapons on Western forces or cities for fear of a "terrific countervailing attack" from NATO.
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