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Ukraine President Zelensky says nuclear war ‘could be a reality’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday nuclear war “could be a reality” as Russia ramps up increasingly ominous saber-rattling threats.

“He wants to scare the whole world,” Zelensky said of Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

“Look, maybe yesterday it was bluff. Now, it could be a reality,” he said of a possible nuclear strike seven months into the war — accusing the Kremlin of “nuclear blackmail.”

“He targeted and occupied our nuclear power plant and the city of Enerhodar. This nuclear station has six blocks. And… he continues his blackmail related to us exporting electricity to Europe.”

A mushroom cloud after the explosion of a French atomic bomb above the atoll of Mururoa, also known as Aopuni. 1971. From 1966until 1996 this was the French testing ground for 193 bombs which detonated first atmospheric, then underground
Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Zelensky said Russian troops recently started shooting at a different power plant, Pivdenna, and that a missile hit an area around 330 yards from it. 

“I don’t think he’s bluffing,” he said. “I think the world is deterring it and containing this threat. We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue.”

9/25/22. president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on CBS’s “Face the Nation” during an interview with moderator Margaret Brennan.
Putin threatened to use “all the means at our disposal” to protect Russia in a war it launched against Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Volodymyr Zelensky on CBS’s “Face the Nation”

“You will be treated in a civilized manner … no one will know the circumstances of your surrender,” the Ukrainian leader said, speaking in Russian during an address to the nation late Saturday,.

Putin signed a bill passed by the Russian parliament last week that punishes soldiers who desert or voluntarily surrender, or who disobey commands to fight, with 10 years in prison; it also hikes the penalty for wartime looting to 15 years.  

The Kremlin leader threatened to use “all the means at our disposal” to protect Russia in a war it launched against Ukraine on Feb. 24 during an announcement that as many as 300,000 reservists would be called up to fight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022.
Sputnik/Sergey Bobylev/Pool via REUTERS

He also raised the specter of nuclear war, declaring: “It’s not a bluff.”