A cornered Putin is more dangerous than ever

The risk of escalation just grew because what constitutes a strike ‘inside Russia’ may now be defined differently by Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event marking the 1,160th anniversary of Russia’s statehood in Veliky Novgorod on Wednesday. PHOTO: AFP
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President Vladimir Putin's menacing televised address on Wednesday was much more than a bid to change the course of his faltering war against Ukraine. It attempted to invert a war of aggression against a neighbour into one of defence of a threatened "motherland", a theme that resonates with Russians steeped in patriotic history.

Mr Putin aimed at nothing less than altering the meaning of the war for his country, raising the stakes for the entire world. He warned the West in unmistakable terms - "this is not a bluff" - that the attempt to weaken or defeat Russia could provoke nuclear cataclysm.

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