Cornered Russians spark fears of Putin deploying nuclear weapons in response to growing Ukrainian momentum near Kherson
- A former British Colonel has warned that Russia could deploy a tactical nuke
- Ukrainian forces are gaining momentum near the occupied city of Kherson
- ‘Putin’s operation may be about to unravel,’ Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said
- ‘It is critical the UK and the US signal to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons would cross a red line’
Ukrainian forces were said yesterday to be gaining momentum near the occupied city of Kherson.
Air strikes have destroyed several bridges leaving the remaining Russian troops cut off.
As Russian military doctrine prescribes tactical nuclear weapons when its forces are facing defeat, concerns are growing that Vladimir Putin could use them.
Last night, chemical weapons expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said: ‘The spectre of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine is no doubt a growing concern in Nato capitals.
Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Goron with his wife Julia in Tisbury, Wiltshire
‘As the tide appears to be turning in southern Ukraine, Putin’s special operation could be about to unravel. At this stage it is critical the UK and the US signal to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons would cross a red line.’
Tactical nuclear missiles usually have a killing radius of a mile and a half. But their shockwaves and electromagnetic pulses extend further, posing an additional risk to life.
Western intelligence agencies were last night understood to be closely monitoring any transit of these weapons towards southern Ukraine.
These fears emerged as the numbers of Russian troops killed or wounded in the conflict was put at 75,000 or higher.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
The latest US estimate was up from 60,000 put forward last week.
In recent days there has also been a significant drop-off in the quantities of Russian ordnance being fired at Ukrainian positions.
Russian artillery fire has reduced by half, most probably because of the destruction of missile depots far behind the frontline.
These silos are in range of the latest Western rockets donated to Ukraine.