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The dangers of nuclear escalation have not receded

Putin would use a tactical weapon if pushed

1ai news, 3rd May, Keir A. Lieber  Keir Lieber is the Director of the Center for Security Studies and Security Studies Program, and Professor in the School of Foreign Service and Department of Government at Georgetown University.

Since the Cuban missile crisis, the idea of all-out nuclear war in Europe has been almost unthinkable. And many Western commentators have dismissed Putin’s recent threats of nuclear blackmail as scare tactics. But we should not be so confident in our assessment argues nuclear expert Keir Lieber. If the West doesn’t tone down it’s rhetoric of a decisive military victory against Russia, we could be heading for catastrophe in Europe.

Many analysts believe that the danger of Russian nuclear weapons use against Ukraine or NATO has receded. Occasional escalatory threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin have been largely dismissed as scare tactics by Western officials, who remain confident that nuclear deterrence will hold under most plausible circumstances.

Such confidence is misguided. Both strategic logic and international history suggest that Putin is likely to use nuclear weapons if he faces the prospect of a devastating defeat in the Ukraine war or a future conflict with NATO. Specifically, if Putin perceives an existential threat to his regime, then he will be compelled to prevent that outcome – even if it requires taking risky escalatory steps, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate tools of last resort; any rational leader would consider using them if his or her regime or life were on the line.

Of course, Russia’s poor military performance in Ukraine makes a future direct attack by Russia on a NATO country seem unlikely. But that same conventional military weakness explains the danger of Russian nuclear escalation in both the current war in Ukraine and any conflict with NATO, if one were to occur.

The brutal fate of leaders like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, who lost wars to superior adversaries without having a nuclear option, looms large…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Both strategic logic and international history suggest that Putin is likely to use nuclear weapons if he faces the prospect of a devastating defeat in the Ukraine war

The only wise response to Putin’s nuclear use in Ukraine would be to negotiate some kind of resolution in which all parties could declare Potemkin victories. If that is the path we are heading down, the United States and its allies should dial-down any rhetoric about achieving decisive victory and, instead, find a solution before nuclear weapons are used.…………….

May 4, 2023 - Posted by | Russia, weapons and war

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