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“This is not a bluff”: would Vladimir Putin risk nuclear war?

The Russian leader threatens nuclear retaliation while signalling he will annex swathes of Ukraine.

On Wednesday (21 September), President Vladimir Putin announced illegal referenda to claim parts of Ukraine as Russia. In the biggest escalation of the war since the invasion began, he ordered a partial mobilisation of Russian army reserves and made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons.

Emily Tamkin and Katie Stallard in Washington, DC, are joined by the New Statesman’s Britain editor and podcast host Anoosh Chakelian to discuss the risk of nuclear war, sold-out flights as military-eligible men attempt to leave Russia, and whether Putin is in fact running out of options.

Next, the team turn to the UK and the foreign policy agenda of the new British prime minister, Liz Truss. They discuss if the UK’s staunch support for Ukrainians will continue, tensions with US President Joe Biden over the Northern Ireland Protocol and Truss’s hawkish approach to China.

Then in You Ask Us, a listener asks what to make of Biden’s comments that the US would defend Taiwan.

If you have a You Ask Us question for the international team, email podcasts@newstatesman.co.uk

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Katie on the dangerous logic behind Vladimir Putin’s speech.

Emily asks will US/UK relations be damaged by Liz Truss.

Lawrence Freedman on why using nuclear weapons won’t solve any of Putin’s problems.

Katie asks where does Putin go from here?

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