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Moscow unlikely to use nuclear weapons, say ex-Russian generals

Former Russian generals tell Al Jazeera that while the prospect of nuclear war remains slim, the situation could quickly escalate.

Aljazeera, 24 Sept 22,

Russia is unlikely to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine unless NATO puts boots on the ground, two retired Russian generals have told Al Jazeera.

“If the collective West attacks Russia with its conventional armed forces, then Russia’s response could very well be nuclear since there is no comparison between the West’s conventional military potential and that of Russia,” said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant general who served as the Russian military’s top arms control negotiator from 2001 to 2009.

However, Buzhnisky stressed that Russia had little to gain from using nuclear weapons in Ukraine under the present circumstances.

He argued that the Russian military did not need nuclear weapons to achieve its strategic objectives, such as destroying transport infrastructure used to deliver Western arms shipments or damaging the country’s electricity network.

Mutual destruction

At the same time, Buzhinsky warned that initiating a nuclear attack would almost certainly put Moscow and Washington on a dangerous escalating spiral.

“There can be no limited use of nuclear weapons – to think otherwise is an illusion,” he said.

“Any nuclear conflict between Russia and the United States will lead to complete mutual destruction.”

A similar assessment was given by Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired lieutenant general who spent more than 40 years working in the Soviet and Russian foreign intelligence services.

Reshetnikov told Al Jazeera that the prospect of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine was “impossible and would make little military sense” right now.

He argued that such a move would be a sharp deviation from the risk-averse strategy that Russia has pursued in Ukraine so far, noting that the Kremlin waited nearly seven months before declaring a partial mobilisation.

NATO troops becoming directly involved in the conflict could change Moscow’s calculus, however.

“The United States and practically all of Europe are already participating in this conflict by providing Ukraine with weapons, intelligence, instructors, and volunteers,” Reshetnikov said………………………………………….

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the Reuters news agency that the security bloc would “make sure that there is no misunderstanding in Moscow about the seriousness of using nuclear weapons,” while adding that it had not observed any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture.

In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, urged other nuclear powers to commit to “swift retaliatory nuclear strikes” against Russia if Moscow attempted to use its weapons in Ukraine.

September 22, 2022 - Posted by | Russia, weapons and war

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