NewsRussia ramps up nuclear threats as west aids Ukraine's attacks

Russia ramps up nuclear threats as west aids Ukraine's attacks

Russia is threatening with nuclear weapons again. Is it blackmail, or a real threat?
Russia is threatening with nuclear weapons again. Is it blackmail, or a real threat?
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5:46 AM EDT, June 9, 2024

For years, Russia has been using the nuclear threat, but after the aggression against Ukraine, this topic began to appear much more frequently. The independent Russian news portal Meduza raises the question of whether we are really at risk of a nuclear conflict and if the consent to Ukraine's use of Western weapons to attack targets on Russian territory could push us towards it.

Russia has often relied on the nuclear threat, but following its aggression against Ukraine, this threat has become more tangible than ever before. The West seems to treat these veiled threats of using nuclear weapons as blackmail with elements of a bluff. Now, the discussion about the danger of uncontrolled escalation toward nuclear war has returned in a new form.

Recently, Western countries have been questioning whether they are prepared for an escalation that could theoretically threaten nuclear conflict to save Ukraine. Many leaders have allowed Ukraine to use the weapons provided to them to attack targets on Russian territory. In response, the Kremlin has openly theorized how it might react to such actions.

Even the United States officially allowed the use of weapons supplied to Ukraine against targets on Russian territory, with the stipulation that the attacks can only be carried out in border areas and only when these targets strike back at Ukraine. Many countries did not impose such conditions on their consent.

Putin responded by describing potential escalation scenarios. He stated that he does not plan to use non-strategic nuclear weapons but reminded everyone that Russia possesses a significant number, with each charge being three times more powerful than the bombs dropped by the United States on Japan in 1945. He also highlighted that Russia has a doctrine that strictly defines the conditions for the use of nuclear weapons.

Putin also suggested that Russia could escalate in other ways, such as providing "weapons of the same class [that are being supplied to Ukraine by the United States and other NATO countries] to countries and organizations" in conflict with the West, enabling them to strike Western "sensitive targets." The Meduza portal notes that Ukrainians have already used Western weapons to attack the border regions of the Russian Federation several times, without provoking the promised nuclear retaliation.

All this suggests that at the current stage of the discussion, it's not about Western weapons or the entire territory of Russia, but about some specific weapons and specific targets - emphasizes Meduza.

Russia threatens with nuclear weapons. Should these threats be taken seriously?

According to Meduza, many experts and politicians in the West, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, believe there are "really no 'red lines' that Ukraine's allies should not cross in the process of helping Kyiv." They argue that Russia is attempting to blackmail and bluff. The United States and Germany approach the matter slightly differently, still trying to set boundaries. This indicates that even in the third year of the war, they still take the threat of escalation from the Kremlin seriously.

No nuclear conflict followed the supply of various weapons, from defensive equipment to long-range missiles. The critical point arose when Russia began to suffer increasingly severe defeats, leading to fears that the regime would take more radical steps. However, this did not happen, partly due to the mobilization of recruits and the reduction of the front lines, shifting the balance of victory in Russia's favor.

In the West, another explanation is that Russian leaders did not dare to "press the button" because, allegedly, the United States managed to convince China to point out to Putin that using nuclear weapons in any form is unacceptable – even as a scare tactic. According to Washington, NATO's retaliatory threats also had an effect.

In any case, the experience of three years of war shows that the opponents – the West and the Kremlin – do not want a direct clash or completely uncontrolled development of the conflict. Therefore, the risk of nuclear war between them remains low – concludes Meduza.
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