Threatening language from the Kremlin is forcing people to prepare for the worst.
There’s a nuclear threat hanging over Ukraine

The atomic saber rattling by the Kremlin ranges from President Vladimir Putin’s threat to defend illegally annexed Ukrainian territory “by all means available,” to increasingly unhinged comments from former President Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow’s (false) hints that Ukraine is developing a nuclear “dirty bomb” — something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned might be Russia preparing for a so-called false flag attack.

For many Ukrainians, these are far from empty words and the country is getting ready.

The Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation in downtown Kyiv has one bomb shelter in the carpark below the building to protect staff from conventional Russian attacks and another to be used in case of a nuclear attack.

“The second shelter is equipped accordingly. It has a supply of medicines, food, drinking and distilled water, flashlights and batteries,” said TV star Serhiy Prytula, who heads the eponymous foundation.

“[Predicting the actions of] the Russian military and political leadership is always difficult if you use normal logic. We have been very unfortunate to have this neighbor. This is why anything connected to a nuclear threat should be taken very seriously, as a real threat, and prepare accordingly,” he said.

The language coming out of Moscow is worrying.

Earlier this month, Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, warned that Kyiv’s aim to recapture all of its lost territory “is a threat to the existence of our state and of a dismemberment of today’s Russia,” something he said was a “direct reason” to implement Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

The Russian military is on the back foot in Ukraine and setting off a nuclear weapon could be seen as a desperate measure by the Kremlin to force a halt in the war.

Kyiv’s reaction to Medvedev was swift.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, branded his nuclear threats “an act of suicide,” saying: “Russia will finally turn into enemy No. 1 for the whole world.”

Even Russia’s ally China is warning about the danger of using nuclear weapons. Last week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said: “Nuclear weapons cannot be used, a nuclear war cannot be waged.”

U.S. President Joe Biden told Putin that it would be an “incredibly serious mistake” to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.