Senator Bob Menendez says ‘real concern’ Ukrainian military success could increase chance Putin will turn to nukes

‘The potential of a chemical, biological or tactical nuclear weapon may grow’, US senator says

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Monday 02 May 2022 01:43 BST
Sen Bob Menendez
Sen Bob Menendez (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez warned that Ukraine’s continued military success against Russia’s invasion could increase the chance that Vladimir Putin could turn to nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

Although Mr Putin and his advisers had reportedly expected Russia’s military to quickly overwhelm Ukrainian defence forces, Nato officials now estimate roughly 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, wounded, or captured since the invasion began in late February.

Speaking to anchor Bret Baier on Fox News Sunday, Mr Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said he fears Mr Putin could turn to nuclear weapons to maintain his own standing at home if Ukrainian forces continue to inflict losses upon Russia.

“Well, one of my concerns is that ironically, the more success that the Ukrainians have, the greater the risk that Putin will do something because he's losing and has to save face at home,” he said. “And so the potential of a chemical, biological or tactical nuclear weapon may grow as a result of that”.

Mr Menendez called the threat of Russian weapons of mass destruction — particularly Moscow’s chemical weapons stockpiles — ‘a real concern’ because Mr Putin has shown no qualms about using such weapons in the past.

“Understand that Putin did this in Syria. Unfortunately, the world didn't care about Syria, but he used chemical weapons in Syria ... so he is capable of doing that,” he said.

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