Russia is beginning to 'prepare their society' to launch a nuclear attack, Zelenskyy says, but adds Putin is 'not ready to do it'

Zelenskyy on video screen
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was preparing its people for nuclear war.

  • Speaking with the BBC, Zelenskyy said such preparations were "very dangerous."

  • But he added that he did not think Russia had made a decision on whether to use nuclear weapons.

The Russian government is laying the groundwork to use nuclear arms, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday, adding that he did not think a decision on whether to use such weapons had been made but that even talking about it was "dangerous."

Speaking with the BBC, Zelenskyy said Russia had begun "to prepare their society" for a nuclear strike in Ukraine, where Russian forces have been retreating in the wake of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in which the country recaptured territory that was annexed by Moscow a week ago. Zelenskyy added of the prospect of nuclear warfare: "That's very dangerous."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons, recently saying the US had set a "precedent" by dropping atomic bombs in World War II. While their use is still deemed exceedingly unlikely by analysts, Western officials are taking the threats seriously and monitoring Russia for any signs it may be preparing to use a smaller, tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield — a possibility that one expert told Insider was "extraordinarily" concerning.

US President Joe Biden has likewise said he believes Putin is "not joking" about such threats.

While noting he shared such concerns, Zelenskyy said there was no reason to be fatalistic about a Russian threat designed to make Western nations think twice about supporting Ukraine.

"They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don't know whether they'll use or not use it," he said, adding: "I think it's dangerous to even speak about it."

Zelenskyy said Russia was already threatening the world with its actions at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which it occupied in early March. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency last month said the situation at the plant was "untenable," adding: "We are one step away from a nuclear accident." The standoff has raised fears of another Chernobyl disaster, the 1986 nuclear-reactor meltdown that spread dangerous radiation across Europe.

The Ukrainian president urged his allies to impose additional sanctions on Russia to discourage any sort of nuclear duress.

"The world can stop urgently the actions of Russian occupiers," he said. "The world can implement the sanction package in such cases and do everything to make them leave the nuclear power plant."

Read the original article on Business Insider