Nuclear blackmail, or FSB provocations in the Russian Federation

October 05, 2023

On the eve of the Russian President’s birthday, there are rumours and speculations about the possible escalation of a major war. Russia is about to hold an exercise with the "threat of nuclear strikes", while Western officials are active visiting Ukraine. Nobody knows what is in Putin's head, so the issue of using weapons of mass destruction is still open, military analysts tell Focus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is celebrating his birthday on October 7, and as in the previous two years, he is going to "work". However, the city where the dictator will stay is unknown. The most likely options are Moscow, St. Petersburg or Sochi, Russian media report.

Last October, the dictator celebrated his 70th anniversary with his counterparts at an informal meeting of CIS heads of state in St. Petersburg, and in 2021 he attended a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

On the eve of the Russian dictator's birthday, forecasts of a possible escalation of a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine began to appear. The attention of mass media and experts was drawn to Moscow's plans to hold a large-scale civil defence exercise on October 3 due to the "threat of nuclear war". They emphasize that this exercise will take place for the first time in the Russian history.

"In the conditions of ruination of universal norms and principles of the international law, the danger of armed conflicts involving nuclear states, including near the Russian borders, is growing," the exercise organizers say.

The Russian segment of social networks is spreading information about Putin's alleged ultimatum to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russia may commence "a real war that it has not yet started."

In parallel with the rumours about the military escalation, on October 2, all the ministers of foreign affairs of the EU countries met in Ukraine. Normally such events take place in Brussels. The head of the European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, emphasized that European officials would discuss security obligations to Ukraine in the face of a major war.

In addition, on September 28, the French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu and the new British Defence Minister Grant Shapps came to Kyiv. It remains unclear why these high-ranking guests simultaneously visited the Ukrainian capital.

The probability of missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine before the dictator's birthday is low, because air defence systems can spoil his holiday, according to the co-director of foreign policy programmes, coordinator of international projects of Razumkov Centre, military expert Oleksiy Melnyk.

"If there is a major attack between October 4 and 7, they will try to time it for Putin's birthday. Ukrainian intelligence and special services can prepare their dear gift, too," the expert noted.

Another scenario, according to his words, might be a provocation with a large number of victims from the Russian special services in the Russian Federation with subsequent accusations of Ukraine. The question of the Kremlin's use of nuclear weapons is open due to the extreme unpredictability of its leader, Melnyk added.

"Nuclear blackmail is just blackmail, but its implementation is another pair of shoes. Any use of tactical warheads will fundamentally change the military situation. Russians are gradually getting used to think that nuclear war is quite real and will be good for the country," he continues.

As an example, Melnyk quoted the statement of a member of the State Duma, Lieutenant General of the Russian army Andrei Gurulyov about a nuclear strike on the village of Robotyne, where the Ukrainian army is advancing.

"Robotyne is an ideal place for the use of tactical nuclear weapons. They amassed there, and their offensive forces bite the dust ... Even with the forces we have, we are quite capable of advancing, liberating Zaporizhia, or maybe even Dnipropetrovsk region," said the Russian MP.


Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

(044) 201-11-95