Yes, Russia can use nuclear weapons

“Nuclear war is part of our strategic culture. Yes, we will start a war if our homeland, our way of life, is completely threatened. Why don’t we? “

That’s what a retired Russian diplomat told me on the sidelines of the Track 2 dialogue between American, Russian and Chinese experts in 2012. And honestly, for several years, I didn’t believe it. he. I consider his remarks bragging, atomic machinery, if you will.

The background of the conversation was an answer to a question with my Russian colleague on the topic of Moscow’s nuclear weapons doctrine and thinking. Russia has for many years believed in the concept of nuclear escalation to de-escalate, or what defense pundits call “escalation to de-escalation.”

Like an animal in a cage

The thinking is that if Moscow’s actual territory is threatened by overwhelming conventional force – think a NATO attack – then Russia has the right to respond with tactical nuclear weapons, or more. because Moscow has no way to win a long conventional war. NATO forces.

In fact, in the war simulation games I’ve been on for a few years now, we’ve always assumed that Russia would use tactical nuclear weapons against NATO if a war broke out.

But such thinking still has a lot of unexplored grounds. NATO doesn’t really itch for a war with Moscow or an attack on its territory, even if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still going on.

Map of the points attacked by Russia in Ukraine.
Russia has attacked several cities across Ukraine, especially near the country’s border.
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Back in 2012, I pressed my Russian colleague, asking under what other, if any, situations Russia would use nuclear weapons. He explained that “if there is anything that threatens the viability of a nation and our prosperity, my view is that we will use nuclear weapons.”

I didn’t believe him then, but now I do.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin now set his country Nuclear forces on alertMoscow is signaling to us that recent arms shipments, sanctions, lashing out in the media and pressure placed on the Putin government are straining nerves.

Get the latest information update in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict with live coverage of the Post.

Putin is trying to tell us with certainty that we are approaching his geopolitical red line and that like an animal in a cage, he will respond if we cause trouble. pressure is too great. That could even mean using nuclear weapons.

Recent sanctions target Russian banks and access to the SWIFT messaging network are certainly the reasons for Putin’s increase in nuclear power. With 10 Russian banks essentially locked out of global markets and the Central Bank of Moscow limiting how they can use their $600 billion in foreign exchange reserves, Putin is currently facing a peer-to-peer financial crisis. equal to what Boris Yeltsin faced in 1998, when the Russian economy almost collapsed.

Resolved or no deal

Good news, if any, it is peace talks appear to be underway whereby both sides can come to some agreement to stop the hostile acts. Ukraine, for example, could make a formal commitment not only to NATO in name, but so closely to the alliance and to the EU that Russia would have to think twice about a second invasion. Russia can accept that, knowing that its forces at this point will need to rely on heavy weapons, large-scale bombing, hundreds more missile attacks and more total force. more to actually take over Ukraine.

People stand in line in front of a supermarket as smoke rises over the town of Vasylkiv.
The mayor of Kyiv said in an interview on Sunday that Ukraine’s capital was “besieged” completely by Russian troops with no way out.

But this is where things can go from bad to worse. If both sides cannot come to an agreement, Putin can decide really go all out against Kyiv, determined that a policy of burn and win at all costs would be better than taking weeks or months to take over the whole country. The level of carnage we will see will resemble images from the Second World War: cities are bombed, bodies are on the streets, and carnage is everywhere.

The world will be horrified – and will demand action against Russia. What will the West do? It is likely that more weapons will be poured into Ukraine on a large scale, putting more pressure on Putin to respond. More sanctions will then be followed, including the disconnection of all Russian banks and financial institutions from SWIFT, including entities tied to Russian energy, the lifeblood of the economy. Moscow.

At that point, Russia’s way of life, its viability, will be at stake. The Putin regime will be threatened. Oh, what will Moscow do then? Think “escalate to de-escalate” – and that could mean something horrible for all of us.

From The Spectator Yes, Russia can use nuclear weapons


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