Russia could use nuclear weapons in warfare in Ukraine?

At the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin indirectly raised the possibility of a nuclear strike against any country that interferes in the conflict.

Here are some of the key issues surrounding Putin’s use of nuclear weapons, a possibility that many Western analysts and diplomats consider remote.

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What Russia said about nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine?

In a speech announcing the start of the military operation in Ukraine on February 24, Putin issued a tacit but unequivocal ultimatum that if the West intervened in what he described as a “special military operation” could have used nuclear weapons in answer.

“Anyone who tries to hinder us or . to threaten our country and our people, should know that Russia will respond immediately and the consequences will be as you have not seen. in your whole story, “Putin said, according to a Kremlin Translation.

Three days later, on February 27, Putin ordered his military leaders to put in he warned Russian nuclear deterrence forces, citing what he described as aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also spoke about the dangers of nuclear war, although he said Moscow is doing everything it can to prevent it.

“I don’t want to artificially exaggerate these risks,” Lavrov said last week. “Many would. The danger is serious and real and we must not underestimate it,” prompting the US State Department to describe his comments as “the height of irresponsibility.”

Although Washington has not observed any measures indicating that Russian nuclear forces are in alert, experts and Western officials have put up in beware of viewing the comments as a mere threat given the risk of Putin using nuclear weapons if he feels trapped in Ukraine or if NATO enters in war.

* What did the West say about Putin’s implicit threats?

US officials quickly described Putin’s statements about putting Russian nuclear forces in maximum alert as dangerous, escalating and completely unacceptable, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described them as aggressive and irresponsible.

But US officials immediately made it clear that they saw no indication that Russian forces had changed their nuclear position, and the US military said they saw no reason to change its position.

On February 28, US President Joe Biden asked the American people not to worry about a nuclear war with Russia. Asked if American citizens should care, he replied, “No.”

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* What are the chances of Russia using nuclear weapons?

Biden’s comment appears to reflect a widespread view among American experts and Western officials that the possibilities of Russia using nuclear weapons in warfare in Ukraine are very low.

“Since 1945, every leader with nuclear power . has rejected the use of nuclear weapons in battle for good reasons, ”Gideon Rose, former editor-in-chief of foreign affairs wrote last week.

“Putin will be no exception, as he acts in pragmatic way. He knows it will require extraordinary retaliation and global contempt, with no reason to justify it, “she added.

Western experts and diplomats have pointed out that the main objective of Russian threats to launch a nuclear strike is to dissuade Washington and its NATO allies from directly participating in the war.

“They can’t be trusted. He’s trying to intimidate the West,” said a Western diplomat, who spoke in condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

How can Russia use a nuclear weapon?

While Western countries supplied Ukraine with weapons after the invasion, Biden said last year that putting US forces on the ground in Ukraine “was not on the table”.

The United States and its allies do not want to commit in a conventional war with Russia, not to mention doing anything that could trigger a nuclear conflict.

And if Russia were to use nuclear weapons, experts saw a number of possibilities, from a bombing of the Black Sea or an uninhabited part of Ukraine to demonstrate its capabilities to an attack on a Ukrainian military target or city.

However, the use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine could put in danger the Russian forces and lead to a radioactive effect on Russia itself.

How can the West respond?

Some analysts have said Washington may opt for a conventional military response rather than a nuclear counterattack that could harm US allies or lead to further nuclear escalation that puts Europe or the US mainland at risk.

“What I would suggest instead is that the United States and NATO respond with overwhelming conventional military, political and diplomatic force to further isolate Russia and try to isolate Russia further,” said Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, a group without for-profit that seeks to educate the public about arms control. To end the conflict without escalating in a total nuclear war “.

How can a Russian strike change the nuclear landscape?

NATO may seek to redesign its US-made ballistic missile shield in Poland and Romania to shoot down Russian missiles in future. The alliance has long argued that the current project aims to counter missiles from Iran, Syria and rogue actors in Middle East.

It is still unclear whether the Russian attack could increase the likelihood of other nuclear states such as India and Pakistan using such weapons. If it leads to global condemnation, experts said, it could reduce the chances of others using nuclear weapons.

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