Ukrainians ‘laughing within the face of evil’ amid menace of nuclear escalation

A belief is emerging among many besieged Ukrainians that Russian will not deploy a nuclear weapon in a desperate bid to win the war, according to Kyiv resident Ilyas Verdiev.

Recording in a Kyiv shelter for the latest edition of the Sky News Ukraine War Diaries podcast, Mr Verdiev – who witnessed Russia’s single biggest one-day attack on the capital as well as this week's drone strikes – reveals what citizens are being told by officials in respect of nuclear escalation, and how they are rationalising the threat.

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“More and more talks are about using tactical weapons in order to stop the offensive operation of Ukrainian troops," Mr Verdiev explains. "And hell knows what Putin has on his mind and he might use even a strategic weapon.

"[But] actually, officials say here in Ukraine say you have to realise that Putin using a strategic nuclear weapon will bring Russia to the dead end. No one will stand aside and the Western world will step in.

"This is going to be the end of Putin and his regime, it will collapse Russia from all perspectives like economical and at some point physical."

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Image: Kyiv resident Ilyas Verdiev witnessed this week's drone strikes on the Ukrainian capital

The spectre of nuclear escalation and assertions by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his capacity to use them is no bluff has been both an unnerving and continued factor in the war. Particularly following recent successes by the Ukrainian military in the south and east of the country.

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But despite the heaping of further misery on Ukrainian citizens – with Russia landing more than 300 strikes on power facilities in the last two weeks – Mr Verdiev and many of his countrymen and women are now applying a grim rationale to the latest Russian strategy.

“The funny thing that we all laughing, we are laughing in the face of evil," he explains. "We are telling Russia, You're not going to get us.


"They think that they can use this system of fear against Ukrainians. But through our whole history, Ukrainians were always fighting this and proving them wrong. As long as we fear them, they are supported by the fear. If he uses it, I think this is going to be the end of Russian civilisation, probably.”

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