Putin isn't insane and won't use nuclear weapons, says ex-Russian foreign minister

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·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia on March 3, 2022. - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow's advance in Ukraine is going
Vladimir Putin isn't insane and "will not intentionally use nuclear weapons against the West", his former foreign minister has said. (Getty)

A former foreign minister in the Kremlin has said Vladimir Putin isn't insane and will not intentionally use nuclear weapons against the West.

Andrei Kozyrev, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1996, said Putin is "rational" and is acting on misguided information from his own military, rather than being hellbent on destroying the West.

He tweeted that the view among some in the West that Putin is being "irrational" in his decision to invade Ukraine is not accurate. He said: "I disagree. It’s horrific, but not irrational."

Instead, Kozyrev argues, Putin has been convinced by his own advisers and propaganda machine that Ukraine is being run by Nazis, and that the West has been behind Kyiv wanting to grow further away from the influence of the Kremlin.

Read more: Russia 'drops cluster bombs on civilian houses and Ukrainian zoo'

IRPIN, UKRAINE - MARCH 07: Residents of Irpin flee heavy fighting via a destroyed bridge as Russian forces entered the city on March 07, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. Yesterday, four civilians were killed by mortar fire along the road leading from Irpin to Kyiv, which has been a key evacuation route for people fleeing Russian forces advancing from the north. Today, Ukraine rejected as
Residents of Irpin flee heavy fighting via a destroyed bridge (Getty)
Pedestrians walk past a destroyed car following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 7, 2022. - On the 12th day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine March 7, 2022, Russian forces pressed a siege of the key southern port of Mariupol and sought to increase pressure on the capital Kyiv. Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control as does Kharkiv in the east, with the overall Russian ground advance little changed over the last 24 hours in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)
The largest Ukrainian cities have remained under Ukraine's control (Getty)

He has also believed the mistruths fed to him by corrupt Russian military officials, Kozyrev added.

"The Kremlin spent the last 20 years trying to modernise its military," he said, "Much of that budget was stolen and spent on mega-yachts in Cyprus. But as a military advisor you cannot report that to the President. So they reported lies to him instead."

The way the West had dealt with Russia in the past led to Putin's belief they were "toothless", and wouldn't fight back, he said.

Instead, Moscow has had to contend with swingeing sanctions imposed by the UK, US, Canada and the EU, including sweeping sanctions against Putin himself, his ministers, oligarchs, individuals close to the Kremlin, banks, and key businesses.

Watch: Michael Gove says Putin has other 'grisly' options before using nuclear weapons

Russia’s economy has also come under immense pressure from the international sanctions, with the rouble dropping to its lowest-ever value, weakening to 133.5 to the dollar - a 40% drop in value compared to before the invasion.

"He miscalculated on all three, but that doesn’t make him insane. Simply wrong and immoral," Kozyrev said.

Read more: Russia says military action will stop immediately if Ukraine agrees to four conditions

A Ukrainian serviceman looks on as evacuees cross a destroyed bridge as they flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022. - Ukraine dismissed Moscow's offer to set up humanitarian corridors from several bombarded cities on Monday after it emerged some routes would lead refugees into Russia or Belarus. The Russian proposal of safe passage from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy had come after terrified Ukrainian civilians came under fire in previous ceasefire attempts. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Putin's forces have so fair failed to gain control over Ukraine, 12 days into the invasion. (Getty)

It is widely believed that Russia's invasion has not gone to plan, with Putin left angry and frustrated by the slow progress made by his forces in the opening days of the conflict.

Russia has since stoked fears of a nuclear conflict with the West, with Putin putting Moscow's nuclear forces on "high alert", and conducting submarine drills in the Black Sea.

Moscow's current foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, further fanned the flames further last week, saying a world war sparked by the current crisis "will become nuclear".

Despite this, Kozyrev has insisted Putin is simply using the nuclear threat as his "last remaining card in the deck" to extract concessions from Ukraine and the West.

IRPIN, UKRAINE -- MARCH 6, 2022: Local residents arrive evacuation busses after their town was bombarded with Russian artillery fire in Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022. (MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES)
Local residents arrive evacuation busses after their town was bombarded with Russian artillery fire in Irpin (Getty)

"In my opinion, he is rational. Given that he is rational, I strongly believe he will not intentionally use nuclear weapons against the West. I say intentionally because indiscriminate shelling near a nuclear power plant can cause an unintentional nuclear disaster in Ukraine."

The invasion of Ukraine has shown no signs of stopping, with Putin facing accusations of war crimes and of indiscriminately bombing civilian men, women and children.

Even after agreeing a ceasefire so civilians could be evacuated, so-called safe routes were shelled by Russian forces in Irpin on Sunday, killing civilians who were trying to flee to safety.

Putin's invasion has triggered the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, displacing around 1.5 million people.

Ukrainian cities have come under almost constant bombardments, with Ukrainian officials estimating that over 2,000 civilians - including children - have been killed in the violence.

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