Vladimir Putin may be looking for a wider conflict than the one he is involved in in the Ukraine at the moment, as the Russian President postures to show that his country is the biggest and strongest superpower, at least militarily speaking, in the world.
During some lunchtime banter between Putin and his counterpart from New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key, at an international summit earlier in the year, the two world leaders joked, if that’s even possible, about nuclear war.
As Key recalled, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, he joked with Putin and the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, asking him, “How long would it take a missile to get out from Moscow to NZ?”
Medvedev replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll let you know before it happens.”
That was probably the last time world leaders spoke about a nuclear war in jest, as the reality of that possibility has changed on the ground over the last few months.
As Putin finds himself at loggerheads with the West, following his invasion of the Ukraine, he has mentioned Russia’s 5,000 nuclear warheads on at least three occasions recently, and by all accounts, he wasn’t joking.
For example, last Thursday night, when Putin was en route to a 50 nations summit, the annual Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan.
“He’s again threatened the West with nuclear weapons,” says John Besemeres, a Russia expert at the ANU.
According to Besemeres, Vladimir Putin has some kind of fantasy when it comes to nuclear war.
“It seems like a mastubatory fantasy he can’t go without. These are references that haven’t been heard since the era of the Soviet Union, and even then it wasn’t this overt.”
Fortunately, according to Peter Jennings, the former head of strategy at the Australian Defense Department, it’s not likely that Russia has any nuclear weapons pointed at Australia or New Zealand.
“There is a low probability that Russian nuclear weapons are aimed at Australia, with one possible exception,” says Jennings.
That exception would be the joint U.S..- Australian satellite tracking bases at Pine Gap and Nurrungar.
“That would be the joint facilities. The joint facilities are the only thing that may be relevant to the US ability to launch an attack on Russia,” he said.
Besemeres summary of the situation says it all, as he lays down the possibility of a nuclear threat from Vladimir Putin against Australia, “Putin’s Russia is heading towards a police state internally and a rogue state externally. It’s a very worrying combination.”