RIGA - The more Russia's military campaign against Ukraine fails the more likely it will ramp up its nuclear blackmail, but the West should not panic about it, says Janis Sarts, director of NATO's Riga-based Strategic Communication Center of Excellence (StratCom CoE).
"We are delighted about Ukraine's battlefield success, but let's keep in mind that the more the Kremlin fails the more intense its nuclear blackmail gets. We must be prepared for that and should not fall for it," Sarts said on Twitter.
Elaborating on his opinion, Sarts told LETA that Russia's previous attempts of nuclear blackmail have proven unsuccessful but that this does not mean that Russia's threats will stop.
"Obviously, I was extremely glad that the active operation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was stopped. But the [Russian] rhetoric is sure to intensify. It is almost like a reflex - as soon as the Russians start failing and they feel threatened, it happens," Sarts said. He added that the Russians' current strategy to pretend that nothing has happened is not going to work in the long term and that sooner or later they will have to admit that their war is not going well. "And then this blackmail is likely to intensify," Sarts said.
"Most importantly, we must not fall for it and panic that they might do something and that therefore we should hold back our support," Sarts stressed.
Since the start of September, Ukrainian forces have liberated around 2,000 square kilometers of Ukraine's territory that was occupied by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address last Saturday.