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What could the West do if Putin launched a nuclear strike?

There has been much speculation about whether Vladimir Putin will use nukes. The consequences could prove disastrous for both the West and Russia.

Both Russia’s slowing invasion and the Ukrainian attack at the Kerch Bridge have raised concerns that Putin could use conventional weapons to launch a nuclear attack.

Last week, the US President Joe Biden stated that the world was closer to “Armageddon”, than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

NATO claims that such a move could lead to a “physical reaction” from Ukraine, her allies, and NATO itself.

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It stated that any use of nuclear weapons would lead to “unprecedented” consequences and that Moscow used its nuclear threats primarily to prevent NATO and other countries intervening in Ukraine.


What steps could the West take to stop Putin from going nuclear?

Andriy Zgorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defense minister, stated that NATO has many options in case Putin makes a “terrible decision.”

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He wrote in External Affairs: “It might even not need a landing operation, the Western alliance could credibly inform the Kremlin it would hit Russian capability with direct missile strikes, airstrikes and destroy its military facilities, and disable its Black Sea fleet.

“It could threaten its electronic warfare communications and set up a cyber-blackout against all Russian military personnel.”

He said that breaking the nuclear taboo could also lead to repercussions in China and India which would be a further blow for the Kremlin.

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General David Petraeus claims that Russia will be in worse shape if Vladimir Putin uses nuclear tactical weapons on the battlefield.


Does the West do anything to prevent a nuclear attack from happening?

Former director-general of Royal United Services Institute Professor Michael Clarke said that the Kremlin was warned about the potential consequences of escalation.

He stated that the US and at least three to four NATO members raised the threat of tactical nuclear weapons a few weeks back. They then contacted their Russian counterparts and the Russian general staff to tell them not to think about it.

They won’t tell us what their words were, and neither should they. This is necessary to keep a deterrent in place. But what they seem to have said was that they will not be passive.

“Second: We won’t go nuke, but we will go convention, and we have all the conventional power we need to strike your nuclear infrastructure. We might attack you if we think you are going nuclear.

“That seems to be the message.”

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Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary of NATO, told Sky News that NATO will conduct annual nuclear exercises to demonstrate readiness.


Should the West do more now?

Alexander Gabuev is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said that Russia’s recent missile attacks on Ukraine were “a sad reminder of the worst pages of this ugly conflict are still ahead”.

He said that the Kremlin’s reaction was becoming “ever more erratic, disproportionately and destructive”.

Concerning Russia’s response to the Kerch Bridge explosion – which is a crucial route between Russia and Crimea – Mr Gabuev stated that this demonstrated Russia’s “vast toolbox for escalation”.

He stated that “Given the stakes and emotions,” the window for diplomacy will open at the most dramatic time: Putin’s unpacking of his nuclear toolskit. This will be visible to NATO, and require a lot signalling from Moscow.

“Only then can the Ukrainian and Western publics be convinced that there is an urgent need for negotiations.”

He said that President Biden would be involved in negotiations, “since the Kremlin considers his the only true head of the oppositional coalition.” The sooner they start, the better.


What does the Ukrainian population think?

According to a Ukrainian MP, a nuclear attack would not change the resolve of the Ukrainian people to fight.

Yelyzaveta Yasko, a Ukrainian MP, told Kay Burley that Vladimir Putin doesn’t have logic anymore. It is impossible to justify Putin anymore.

“We know that he is in the final battle of his existence, where he wants the world to see that he can take land, kill thousands, and destroy infrastructure. We also understand that a nuclear strike and threat are very real, but that it won’t change much on the ground in Ukraine.

It’s a disaster, of course. It is catastrophic for me. It is a terrible tragedy to witness thousands of lives being destroyed, injured, or killed.

“But it won’t change the rule of Ukrainian citizens to restore justice, and to restore our territorial sovereignty.”


Continue reading



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Moscow splits opinions after Kremlin’s escalated in Ukraine


Why the West shouldn’t be so concerned about a nuclear strike

Ian Bond from the Centre for European Reform says that the West must stop sounding and being afraid of nuclear attack.

He said this to the Doomsday Watch podcast. “Nothing is more provocative than Putin’s weakness. So the more that the West says that ‘We fear that Russia might use nukes’, the more likely it is that Putin will continue to threaten to use nukes – and maybe even use a few to show that he truly means it.”

Bond suggests that the message to Russia should be sent privately. It could be something like: “Please understand, if you go nuke, we will consider the gloves as off.”

He acknowledged that Russia could not be “absolutely excluded” from using nuclear weapons. However, he said: “We need to stop worrying ourselves with the Bogeyman. If the Ukrainians drive out the Russians, the Russians will go nuclear. I don’t believe that.”

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