According to former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Putin's nuclear weapons threat is nothing more than a "bluff".
Kasyanov served as Putin's PM between 2000 and 2004 and claimed his regime will inevitably collapse within two years.
The former PM was forced to leave Russia and moved to an undisclosed location earlier this year, the Daily Mirror reports.
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He expressed that he "very much doubts" Putin will go through with his threats of nuclear war and with Russia losing ground in the war in recent weeks, the current leader announced a partial mobilisation of reserve forces.
Seemingly under pressure in the war against Ukraine, the Russian President said Kyiv or Western Europe will not be immune if he decides to use weapons of mass destruction.
It is reported 55,000 Russian soldiers have died in the seven months since the war began and with the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists, that has led to thousands of Russians protesting with many attempting to flee the country.
Kasyanov told Channel 4 News: "In terms of mobilisation, it's not a bluff. In terms of potential use of nuclear weapons, I think it's a bluff."
He added: "He wants right now to blackmail the Western leaders, the whole of Western society.
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"He wants to recognise, through these artificial referendums, occupied parts of Ukraine as Russian territory and to say to the Western leaders after that, 'Putin is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian sovereign territory'.
"But I very much doubt that Mr Putin will use nuclear weapons because he realises that for the Western leaders, that's the same, whether there is annexation and recognition, the nature of the war would not be changed."
Kasyanov believes the heavy losses that Russia has so far suffered could sway public opinion in such a drastic fashion, it could result in the end of Putin's 10-year second spell regime.
He said: "Mr Putin has already started the period of his end of his era. The military potential of the Ukraine army will grow and they will have a decisive advantage on the battlefield that will lead to the change of the situation and, as I think, to the collapse of the Putin's regime."
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