Russian forces invaded Ukraine five months ago. While it has largely been fought on conventional terms, there have been fears that russian president putin could cross a red line when it comes to nuclear weapons. Some experts argue that is unlikely, but they say the recent rhetoric increases the risk that future conflicts will break a longstanding international taboo.
Without a doubt, putin aims to end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences in the world over.
Putin can leverage nuclear threats to deter a Ukrainian counteroffensive into annexed Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts After annexation, Putin may state, directly or obliquely, that Russian doctrine permitting the use of nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory applies to newly annexed territories. Such actions would threaten Ukraine and its partners with nuclear attack if Ukrainian counteroffensives to liberate Russian-occupied territory continue.
Putin may believe that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would restore Russian deterrence after his disastrous invasion shattered russia’s conventional deterrent capabilities.
But even the use of a tactical small weapon in the Ukraine will have the negative impact for the attackers (they would create areas 10 times worse than Chernobyl in a compact area). Of course, this is something nobody wants to happen. But if so, the logical first attack is to destroy the nuclear response capabilities of the “enemy” and in second place the military targets as bases and concentrations. The third level of escalation are the industrial poles, the last, urban agglomerations. The sum of these targets in NATO (USA +Canada+Europe) is larger than the current stock of strategic weapons that Russia has as a first-hand use.
Even if madness happens, the russian have to face the retaliation from NATO, whose first-hand weapons are in submarines, and then the full scale attack from the USA which has less total nuclear weapons but more total strategic weapons. So basically, the West must give to Russia clear message if it decides to use nuclear force against Ukraine or even NATO then the russians will have to face total “erasure” of their motherland. And every ordinary russian must know this. Ukraine and its Western partners should not let have a narrowing window of opportunity to support a Ukrainian counteroffensive into occupied Ukrainian territory before the kremlin annexes that territory in spite of all russian government nuclear rhetoric is like a thugs and goons thing.