The Ukrainian president, like the leaders of the EU, believes that the Russian leader's nuclear warning should be taken seriously
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told CBS News on Sunday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons. Putin earlier said that Russia would use "all the means available to us" to defend Russian territory.
"Look, maybe yesterday it was a bluff," Zelensky told CBS host Margaret Brennan. "Now, it could be a reality."
Putin himself said on Wednesday that he was "not bluffing" when he warned that Russia would consider defending its land with "various weapons of destruction." That land could soon include the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, as well as the regions of Zaporozhye and Kherson, where referendums are currently being held on joining the Russian Federation.
Western leaders are taking Putin at his word. "When people say it is not a bluff, you have to take them seriously," the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Saturday. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS earlier on Sunday that Washington has told Moscow that "any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia."'
Zelensky also told Brennan that Ukraine considers the Russian occupation of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant "nuclear blackmail," despite Ukrainian forces repeatedly shelling the facility in recent months. Ukrainian forces bombed the plant again last week in an attempt to "create the threat of a man-made disaster," Russia's Defense Ministry said.
Despite Russia's recent mobilization of 300,000 more troops and the likelihood of four new territories falling under Russia's nuclear protection in the near future, Zelensky insisted that Putin "knows that he's losing the war." Nevertheless, the Ukrainian president told CBS that his government needs billions more dollars, more weapons, and more sanctions on Russia to continue the fight.
"We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue," he said, referring to Putin.