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At the end of last year, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had completed final testing of an “invincible” new hypersonic nuclear-capable missile, the Avangard, calling it “the best New Year’s gift” for his country. With Putin seeming to up the ante on his increasingly frequent doomsday rhetoric, should the world be bracing itself for a nuclear conflict?

In the last year, Putin has spoken about a “nuclear apocalypse” more than any Western leader has over the last decade, causing some to speculate that he may be threatening NATO and the United States. But Putin has blamed the risk of a catastrophic outcome on the West, framing Russia’s hypothetical use of nuclear weapons as revenge or retaliation.

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