Russia, Ukraine war: Top Ukrainian official on whether Vladimir Putin may launch nuclear strike amid World War III fears

Vladimir Putin is a "very weak person" who won't launch a nuclear attack as it would be "basically suicide", the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations believes.

A survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) released in March found nearly 70 percent of Americans are concerned the invasion of Ukraine by Russia "is going to lead to nuclear war" and that the globe is at "the beginning stage of World War III". 

Since Putin ordered his troops to take Ukraine in late February, a number of developments have caused considerable angst that he could eventually decide to go nuclear. 

He activated his nuclear deterrence forces within a week of the invasion, which hasn't been going smoothly for Russia. The superpower has failed to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and commentators believe Putin could begin acting more indiscriminately - and take more worrisome actions - the more pushback Russia receives. Just on Saturday, a Ukrainian train station packed with civilians fleeing the conflict was struck by a missile.

Ukraine has been pleading for more help from the world, including NATO. However, although nations have sent the eastern European country both lethal and non-lethal aid, while also sanctioning Russia, none have committed troops to fight as it would entangle them in the conflict.

The Kremlin in March said it could use nuclear weapons if its existence was threatened. 

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya said threats of nuclear war by Russia amount to "blackmail". 

"I don't believe it's possible. It's suicide to Putin himself," said Kyslytsya.

"The nature of Putin, who likes to project an image of being invincible and a brave man, the nature of Putin is he's a very weak person. I don't believe that he wants to kill himself by launching a nuclear attack because it will receive the appropriate reply. That will be basically suicide."

That's a reference to the doctrine of mutually-assured destruction (MAD) that suggests that any country with nuclear capabilities which is attacked with nuclear weapons will strike back, destroying both. Ukraine no longer has nuclear weapons, but if Russia was to use them against Ukraine, it would likely cause serious retaliation from the West. 

David Welch, an expert in international security at the Canadian University of Waterloo, told AM last month that whether Putin uses nuclear weapons will come down to what his mental state is. 

"It's all sabre-rattling and not serious if Vladimir Putin is rational. If he is stressed out, emotional, losing his capacity to make sound decisions? It's a very worrisome, dangerous situation."

After Putin raised the nuclear forces alert, US President Joe Biden was directly asked if Americans should be concerned about a nuclear war breaking out. He answered: "no". White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later said the US had assessed Putin's order and "we see no reason to change our own alert levels".

According to Federation of American Scientists data, Russia and the US hold more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear warheads, with Russia having 5977 and the US having 5428.