Amid growing warnings that the war between Russia and NATO in Ukraine could turn nuclear, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Wednesday that he has spoken to Washington about stationing American nuclear weapons in the country.
Poland shares a 120-mile border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
“The first problem is that we don’t have nuclear weapons,” Duda told Gazeta Polska. “There is always a potential opportunity to participate in the Nuclear Sharing program. We spoke to American leaders about whether the United States was considering this possibility.”
The announcement comes as authorities in Kiev have started distributing potassium iodine tablets—used to protect from radiation exposure from nuclear detonations—in evacuation centers throughout the city.
On Thursday, the department of health and human services announced that it has purchased more than $290 million worth of Nplate, “for use in radiological and nuclear emergencies.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, Nplate has “expanded the toolbox of medical countermeasures available in case a catastrophic event exposes people to high doses of radiation. Such an event could be a nuclear explosion, an accident at a nuclear reactor, a radiotherapy accident, or the escape of radioactive waste”
Earlier this week, the Times of London reported that
President Putin is set to demonstrate his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction with a nuclear test on Ukraine’s borders, Nato is believed to have warned its members.
The report continued,
Sources said Nato had sent an intelligence report to its members and allies alerting them to the fact that Russia is expected to test its nuclear-capable torpedo drone Poseidon, possibly in the Black Sea, which it controls. As officials in Washington draw up possible scenarios for a response, Nato is thought to have reported that the nuclear submarine K-329 Belgorod is headed to the Arctic, having become operational in July.
Additionally, the Times reported that a train operated by the division of the Russian armed forces responsible for nuclear weapons had been spotted advancing toward the front.
Notably, when asked about those reports during a background press briefing Monday, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed seeing the reports but refused to comment on them.
The growing warnings of a nuclear escalation came as Ukraine continued its offensive along large portions of the front, as Russian forces continued to retreat in the face of Ukrainian advances.
For the first time, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the destabilization of the Russian line, telling reporters he expected the situation to “stabilize.”
“We are working on the assumption that the situation in the new territories will stabilize,” Putin said.
On Wednesday, Putin signed four laws ratifying Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian provinces, even as Russian officials could not exactly explain what territory they had annexed.
Ukrainian officials said they have taken thousands of square miles of territory since last month, and have captured dozens of towns and villages in recent days.
The UK ministry of defense reported that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”
Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving their offensive into the province of Luhansk. “The de-occupation of the Luhansk region has already officially started,” Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Ukrainian regional government of Luhansk, wrote on Telegram.
Putin also announced that he had made a series of “corrections” to Russia’s mobilization drive, exempting a broader range of students from being called up.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss declared Wednesday that Ukraine “will win.” She stated, “We will stand with our Ukrainian friends, however long it takes. Ukraine can win. Ukraine must win. And Ukraine will win.”
The statement appeared to be an endorsement of Ukraine’s stated aim of retaking all of the Donbas and Crimea.
Even as Russian forces continued their retreat, Russia apparently carried out a strike 50 miles south of Kiev using a swarm of kamikaze drones, according to Ukraine officials.
Amid the growing debacle for Russian forces, US officials are becoming more explicit in stating the goals of their intervention in the conflict.
One senior US official told the British Telegraph that “the recapture of Crimea by Ukraine is now a distinct possibility and can no longer be discounted.”
He continued, “It is clear that Russia no longer has the ability or willpower to defend key positions, and if the Ukrainians succeed in their goal of recapturing Kherson, then there is a very real possibility that it will ultimately be able to recapture Crimea.”
Meanwhile John Bolton, former UN ambassador under George W. Bush and National Security advisor under Donald Trump, has called on the United States to formally state its implicit goal of regime change in Russia.
“There is no long-term prospect for peace and security in Europe without regime change in Russia,” Bolton wrote in an article for an online journal, declaring, “The whole regime must go.”
Bolton praised the call for the ouster of Putin made by Biden in March, and condemned efforts by the White House to distance itself from Biden’s remark.
Bolton wrote, “Why the angst? There is no long-term prospect for peace and security in Europe without regime change in Russia. Russians are already discussing it, quietly, for obvious reasons. For the United States and others pretending that the issue is not before will do far more harm than good.”
He continued, “Carefully assisting Russian dissidents to pursue regime change might just be the answer. Russia is, obviously, a nuclear power, but that is no more an argument against seeking regime change than against assisting Ukrainian self-defense.”
Bolton added that “it must involve far more than simply replacing Putin. Among his inner circle, several potential successors would be worse. The problem is not one man, but the collective leadership constructed over the last two decades. No civilian governmental structure exists to effect change, not even a Politburo like the one that retired Nikita Khrushchev after the Cuban missile crisis. The whole regime must go.”
He concluded, “It is from the colonels and one-star generals, and their civilian-agency equivalents [in Russia], where the most-likely co-conspirators to take matters into their own hands [will come].”