Putin’s top foreign ally threatens Ukraine with ‘nuclear abyss’ over Russia war

Vladimir Putin's most loyal foreign ally has issued Ukraine with a grave nuclear warning over the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – who has sided with his Russian counterpart since the invasion began – told Agence France-Presse today (July 21) that Kyiv must accept Moscow's demands.

He went on to say that, if there is no end to the conflict, the whole thing will end in the "abyss of nuclear war".

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"We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine," Lukashenko said.

"Let's stop and then we will figure out how to go on living.

"There's no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war. There's no need to go there."

Although the Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it would resort to using nuclear weapons, there has been debate around the issue on Russian state TV – with some commentators urging action.

On Tuesday (July 19) US-based think tank The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned that Putin could soon start using the threat of nuclear weapons as "leverage".

They claimed that Russia is likely fearing a "Ukrainian counteroffensive" into the annexed regions of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk.

They wrote: "After annexation, Putin may state, directly or obliquely, that Russian doctrine permitting the use of nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory applies to newly annexed territories.

"Such actions would threaten Ukraine and its partners with nuclear attack if Ukrainian counteroffensives to liberate Russian-occupied territory continue.

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"Putin may believe that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would restore Russian deterrence after his disastrous invasion shattered Russia's conventional deterrent capabilities, although previous Russian hints at Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear weapons have proven hollow."

Previously, an ISW report said that – despite his strong words today – Lukashenko will stop short of supporting Russia with direct military action despite Putin "putting pressure on him" to do so.

Although Belarus has been used as a staging point by the Russians, the ISW say direct involvement will have a negative impact "on the stability and even survival" of Lukashenko's dictatorship.

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