There are lots of nukes on either side of the Ukraine conflict. But are there important factors holding putin back from using his, through either strategic or tactical use.
First, although putin may seem not to care about international opinion, any use of a nuclear weapons would have immense negative repercussions around the globe. The Russian leader is keenly aware that from an economic and diplomatic perspective, he must keep China (at least passively) on his side — for selling his oil and gas, controlling the United Nations Security Council and obtaining high-technology imports.
He also wants to maintain additional economic strength, especially sales of his hydrocarbons in the “swing vote” regions of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (especially India). Using a nuclear weapon would lose him support from many of the nations that are trying to steer a narrow course between the Western-backed Ukrainians and Russia.
A second concern is that using a nuke would make control of the ladder of escalation difficult and dangerous. Putin knows that once the threshold is crossed, even by a tactical weapon, the Western nuclear nations would go on high alert and the possibility of miscalculation leading to a major strategic exchange rises.
Third, could Putin use a tactical nuclear weapon against a specific target in Ukraine? Potentially Kyiv (to decapitate the government) or the western city of Lviv (to destroy the supply chain providing arms through Poland) or the Black Sea port of Odesa (killing the Ukrainian economy)?
Conceivable, but unlikely. Putin could achieve many of those military goals by using conventional means, if he massed his offensive fires at a given city. He would probably calculate that the risks of a tactical strike outweigh the benefits.
In the end, it’s more likely that if putin wants to do something to really strike terror into Ukrainian hearts, he would opt for a chemical weapon, perhaps directing it against one of those three city targets. He has shown in Syria an indifference to the use of chemical weapons by his ally, President Bashar al-Assad.
And, importantly, it would be more difficult for the West to conclusively attribute the use of a chemical weapon to Putin — the delivery is more ambiguous, and he’s already laid the disinformation groundwork to point to US-Ukrainian chemical and biological programs (fiction, but embedded in many social networks).
Only till 24 February, we could think putin likes his life and warning about his country — he’d not be enthusiastic about risking it all, even for the prize of Ukraine. But today the main concern is how Putin adequate is. Nobody knows it.
The Russian Federation never means what it says, senior adviser to the US Congress, Paul Massaro said. Her diplomacy is completely dishonest, the only thing Putin understands is force. Massaro also noted that “an agreement with Russia is worse than nothing.”
“We need to forget this strange obsession with ‘escalation’ and ‘the third world war’. Putin, being in our brains, is holding us back, but we are not holding him back,” – Paul Massaro said. In his opinion, we should ignore “Russian rhetoric and diplomatic overtures”, defeat Russia on the battlefield, oust it from Ukraine, isolate it from the global economy and achieve peace.
Worrying about putin’s using a weapon of mass destruction is warranted — but the question is it would be more likely chemical or nuclear? So, putin with nuclear and chemical weapon holds the world at arm’s length from the lever to the apocalypse.