It’s best not to mess with us

On March 15, while the world was still wondering where he was, president Putin appeared on Russian state TV in a documentary in which he revealed that at the time of the annexation of Crimea he had considered placing Russia’s nuclear weapons on standby. Earlier, on August 29 2014, he had reminded the annual Seliger National Youth Forum that Russia was one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers, and its ‘partners’ needed to be aware of this and had better not mess with it.

It is difficult to guess what he may have hoped to achieve with these two statements. All he has done is prove to the world that of all its leaders he is the one who most uninhibitedly discusses the deployment and use of nuclear weapons. The only head of state who may compete with him is Kim Jong-un of North Korea, the country with which Russia has just concluded a ‘Year of Friendship.’ A year is a short time but long enough for Kim Jong-un to participate in Russia’s celebration of the end of World War II on May 9.