Russia is likely to use nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine and the West, argues an article in The Wall Street Journal.
The article refers to the statements of the Russians, who in recent days have constantly referred to the possibility of a nuclear conflict, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, and to the attitude of the US, which, instead of trying to find a diplomatic solution, is constantly adding fuel to the fire.
The WSJ also points out that the war in Ukraine has already reached its third month and there seems to be no diplomatic solution – at least not immediately – while at the same time Vladimir Putin would not want to lose anything from the West.
Of course, the article is not without the various graphics that are constantly quoted by Westerners, but what it says about the use of tactical nuclear weapons should be of concern to Western governments.
Read the article in detail
“Sometimes a thing frets your mind and even though you have said it you have to say it again. We take into account, but do not adequately assess, the real possibility of Russia‘s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. This is the key and crucial historical possibility in the drama, and it could actually take place.
And once it starts, it doesn‘t stop. Once he broke the taboo that had been in place since 1945, he broke it. The door has been opened and we are entering the new era. And we don‘t want to enter that era.
The war is in its third month. Diplomatic solutions are less likely than ever. War crimes and atrocities have hardened the Ukrainians, and in any case they are winning and the world is on their side. British intelligence this week reported that Russia has lost some 15,000 troops, 2,000 armoured vehicles and 60 aircraft. The ground invasion force has lost about 25% of its combat power. Russia is experiencing a devastation.
We‘re not worried enough about Russian nuclear use partly because we imagine something like huge missiles with huge warheads launched from another continent and speeding through space. We think: This is not going to happen! It has never happened! But the most likely use would not be large strategic nuclear weapons but smaller tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Such weapons have a shorter range and carry lower yielding warheads.
America and Russia have rough parity in the number of strategic nuclear weapons, but Russia has about 10 times as many tactical nuclear weapons as the US and delivery systems ranging from artillery shells to aircraft.
Why would Vladimir Putin regularly use nuclear weapons? Why would he make such a move that only an insane person would make?
To change the narrative. To shock and destabilize his opponents. To scare the citizens of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries in order to force their leaders to back down. To remind the world – and the Russians – that it has military power. To avoid a massive and public military defeat. To win.
Mr Putin talks a lot about nuclear weapons. He did it again on Wednesday:At a meeting with politicians in St Petersburg, he said that if someone intervenes in Ukraine and “creates unacceptable threats of a strategic nature for us“, the Russian response will be “lightning fast“. He said, “We have all the tools for this that no one else can boast of having. We will not boast, we will use them if we need to. “
He had been talking like that since the beginning of the invasion. It‘s a tactic: He‘s trying to scare everyone. This does not mean that the threat is empty.
There are indications that the Russians are deliberately creating a historical trail of documents, as if to say that they warned us. On Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the risk of a nuclear conflict is “serious” and “should not be underestimated“. Earlier, Anatoly Antonov, Russia‘s ambassador in Washington, sent an official diplomatic note to the US saying that it was triggering the conflict. The Washington Post obtained a copy. He said that the deployments of the “most sensitive” weapons systems in Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict and could have “unforeseen consequences“.
The US has at the same time become rhetorically bolder. This month President Biden referred to Mr Putin as a war criminal. In March, Mr Biden called for a change of regime.
But the White House took it back. This week Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that the US goal in Ukraine is: “We want to see Russia weakened to the extent that it cannot do the things it is doing in Ukraine. ” The original US objective was to protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Has the US strategy changed or has the officials‘ discourse simply become more relaxed? With what broader strategic vision is the management acting?
In my experience with American diplomats, they know, but do not always understand the full implications of their opponents‘ history. Mr Putin was a KGB spy who in 1991 saw the Soviet system from which he had emerged crash around him.
He described the fall of the Soviet Union as a disaster because it left his country weakened, humiliated and stripped of sovereignty and hegemony in Eastern Europe. It is a moving, talking cauldron of grudges, which it uses for maximum manipulation. He does not hide his complaints. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, he accused the US of arrogance, hypocrisy and of creating a “unipolar world” with “one centre of power, one centre of strength, one centre of decision-making“, headed by “one master, one sovereign“. As for NATO, “we have the right to ask: Against whom is this expansion aimed?”
Competition with the West was the central spiritual organizing principle of his life. America is the object of his lifelong obsession. So let me make an argument for my concerns: for this man, Russia cannot lose to the West. Ukraine is not a secondary theatre like the Middle East. It is the main event. I “read” him as someone who will do anything not to lose.
He will turn 70 in October, and whatever his physical and mental health, his life is in its fourth act. I am doubtful that he will accept the idea that the hallmark of his end will be his defeat by the West. He can‘t, his psychology won‘t allow it.
It seems to me that he has become more careless, operating with a different historical consciousness. He launched a world-historical military invasion that, whatever its geostrategic objectives, was chaotic and disorganized – highly aggressive and confident, but not realistically thought out. His army was not up to the task. The project seemed haphazard, almost incoherent, certainly not professional.
Richard Haas, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, often notes that Mr. Putin has killed all the institutions in his country, stripped them of power, independence and respect, as dictators do. They are dismantling centres of power that can threaten them, but can also warn them of weaknesses in their governance. All dictatorships eventually empower themselves in this way. But this means that Mr Putin has no collective leadership in Russia. It‘s all him. And that‘s Vladimir Putin.
When I look at him, I see a new nihilistic edge, not the calculating and reptilian-looking man of the past. People who knew Mr Putin have told me that I am wrong in my concern about his possible use of nuclear weapons, as he knows that if he makes a move with such a weapon, Moscow will in turn be turned into a smoking ruin.