What will he think of next? Vladimir Putin’s ambassador to Denmark threatened the country with nuclear attack should it participate in implementing NATO’s planned missile shield. Reuters:
In an interview in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, said he did not think Danes fully understood the consequences of joining the program.“If that happens, Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” Vanin told the newspaper.[…]“Denmark will become a part of the threat against Russia. It will be less peaceful, and relations with Russia will be damaged,” Vanin said, adding that Russia has missiles which would be able to penetrate the future missile shield.Denmark’s foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said Vanin’s comments were unacceptable.“Russia knows very well that NATO’s missile defense is not aimed at them,” Lidegaard told Jyllands-Posten.
Nuclear weapons are a huge part of Russia’s defense budgets, and Vladimir Putin is determined to find a way to use them as an effective instrument of foreign policy. Russia inherited its energy wealth, a capable spy service, a global disinformation machine, a large if troubled army and a huge nuclear arsenal—but not much else—from the Soviet Union. Putin has pumped more money into the spy service and the disinformation machine, and is using them for all they are worth. He is spending a lot on the military as well in order to get it back into fighting shape. But his best hope to get back into the superpower league as America’s archnemesis, something he dearly wants to achieve, would be to figure out some way to turn his nuclear arsenal to account.To achieve this he has to scare the living daylights out of the world—to make people think he just might use these ghastly weapons—and doing that is both difficult and costly. Nevertheless, he keeps pushing the envelope, in part one supposes because it is so frustrating to have a multibillion dollar radioactive white elephant of a nuclear arsenal that you can’t live without but can’t get any use out of.In an increasingly cash-strapped Kremlin that is also feeling foreign policy pressure, the nukes remain a solution in search of a problem. Hence this latest threat to the Danes—a people, incidentally, not noted for backing down to threats.