Vladimir Putin is planning to exploit the threat of nuclear war to force Nato out of countries bordering Russia, it has been claimed.
A secret meeting between intelligence figures in Moscow and Washington reportedly revealed Putin will consider any attempt to return the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine as declaration of war and will take any necessary step – including using nuclear weapons – to retain control of the region.
Notes from the meeting are also said to have revealed that Putin is planning imminent ‘destabilising actions’ in pro-Western Baltic states in a direct challenge to Nato’s promise to defend the countries from Soviet-style Russian expansionism.
These disturbances are thought to likely involve cyber attacks or ramping up local ethnic tensions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania intended to unsettle the region.
Threat: Vladimir Putin will consider any attempt to return the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine as declaration of war and will take any necessary step – including using nuclear weapons – to retain control of the region
Notes from the top secret meeting between American and Russian officials in Germany last month have reportedly been seen by The Times.
They suggest Russia is prepared to respond with force to the build up of Nato defence forces in the Baltic and by carrying out a wave of cyber attacks that can not be traced back to Moscow.
The Kremlin officials – who were briefed by Russian Foreign Minister Segei Lavrov before the meeting and spoke of behalf of Putin – are said to have issued ‘a spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military’ in response to the growing Nato army in the region.
As well as the situation in the Baltics, two other potential flashpoints were reportedly identified that could lead to nuclear war between Russia and the West: the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, and any future attempt to return the annexed Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.
Firepower: Moscow described Nato’s supply of weapons to Ukrainian military (pictured) – who hope to defeat pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country – as a ‘further encroachment’ on the Russian border
In Crimea, Russia is understood to have said that any attempt remove the region from Russian control would be met ‘forcefully including through the use of nuclear force’.
Meanwhile, Moscow described Nato’s supply of weapons to Ukraine in the hope of defeating pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country as a ‘further encroachment’ on the Russian border.
‘The Russian people would demand a forceful response [to such advances]’, the Kremlin intelligence chiefs reportedly added.
It is the threat posed by Russia to the Baltic states that is thought to be imminent, however, after Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all raised concerns that Moscow has ambitions in the former Soviet territories, prompting Nato to establish a ‘rapid reaction force’ in the region.
The threat of a Russian invasion of the countries is currently considered so great that Lithuania has gone as far as to reintroduce conscription in order to ensure it is prepared for all out conflict.
Ready for conflict: Soldiers take part on in action training near the eastern city of Mariupol in Ukraine
News of the growing tensions emerged as a new men’s clothing label launched in Russia in the hope of cashing in on the wave of patriotism currently sweeping the country.
The move comes ahead of a giant military parade planned in Red Square on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of end of the Second World War underscoring the decisive contribution of the Red Army to defeating Hitler and the Nazis.
Unveiled at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Moscow, the brand is called The Army of Russia.
The design bureau of the Russian Defence Ministry, headed by Leonid Alexeev, showcased balaclavas, shiny ‘military boots’, sweat pants and tops emblazoned with the slogans ‘Army’, ‘Polite’, and ‘Politeness conquests the cities’.
‘Polite’ is a phrase used by Russians to justify their takeover of Crimea last year.
It refers to pro-Moscow forces’ apparently ‘polite’ requests for the dramatically outnumbered Ukrainian security personal to leave the region.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk