The United States hit Russia back with war talk of its own. Officials told 60 Minutes that the U.S. will bring about “catastrophic” consequences if President Vladimir Putin instructs his military to use nuclear weapons.
This comes as President Putin warned Western forces last week that if attacks happen inside Russian borders, he is ready with a severe response and he is “not bluffing.”
The “Russian borders” bit is what is at issue. Last Friday, a referendum on joining Russia happened in the Donbass republic and voters turned out in high numbers. The vote won’t end until Tuesday but already 76% of eligible voters cast their votes in Lugansk and 77% in Donetsk. The regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye have had lower turnout but still hit the 50% threshold required to certify the vote.
If the vote turns out in favor of joining Russia and this territory becomes Russia, then any shelling or attacks inside of those regions could trigger President Putin’s warnings. The West continues to say that they don’t consider this election legitimate, which begs the question: Will they have a choice?