Russian President Vladimir Putin boasts that he has always achieved his goal, even when it comes to something that does not belong to him. It is the word of a bully, as he defines himself, but also that of a braggart. Which of the two characters does he play when he threatens to use nuclear weapons? Behind the possible use of the atomic arsenal there is much more than Putin’s mind, there are decades of thought that have calibrated endless options. The Russian military has come to believe that it is difficult not to use nuclear weapons in a contained manner as a conflict escalates, analysts Michael Kofman and Anya Loukianova have explained. They are also convinced that they can take this step without it involving a global atomic scale.”It is not a bluff,” Putin said Wednesday when discussing how far he was willing to go. And it is true that behind the bravado there is a military effort in recent years to increase the arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, which, unlike strategic ones, would not involve the destruction of an entire city, but rather more limited damage. It has been his way of balancing the overwhelming superiority of the United States and NATO in conventional weaponry. But what would be Russia’s chances of using atomic weapons to settle the Ukraine war in its favour? Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London Lawrence Freedman explains that there aren’t many. “It is not a possibility that should be dismissed, Putin can become so desperate as to [recurrir a las armas nucleares] and that is worrying,” he writes. “We need to consider exactly what military and/or political problems it might solve.” that puts kyiv under his feet. None of that ensures victory.Prologue: BravadoNuclear Weapons RussiaNIUSSo far Putin has fully used the Russian arsenal for threats with “consequences that you have not faced in your history.”It is the first step of deterrence , used not so much against Ukraine as against NATO, so that it does not get deeply involved. And that latent threat has achieved its objective. NATO has not intervened directly in Ukraine. If it did, as Biden often says, it could start the Third World War. Putin’s media chorus abounds in this strategy, such as deputy Andrei Gurulev, who likes to say on television that they can leave the United Kingdom “like a d Martian desert in three minutes” and has proposed the option of bombing Berlin (“We shouldn’t be shy about this,” he says). The presenter Olga Skabeyeva also talks about attacking Poland or the US base in Ramstein (Germany). In these war-torn gatherings they do not usually refer to the price that the Russians would pay and they always talk about attacking Western countries, never about dropping an atomic bomb indiscriminately against the inhabitants of a country that Putin considers Russia. It is also hard to believe, Freedman points out, that such a nuclear attack on Ukraine will be well received by the Russian population. However, the war is in Ukraine and there is the most worrying nuclear scenario: what are the options? Option one: a warning shot on the Serpent Island (Ukraine) in the Black Sea. facts, instead of words. Russia could drop a nuclear bomb on some uninhabited place. Snake Island in the Black Sea has even been mentioned. This would warn kyiv and NATO that the war scenario has changed for the Kremlin. Freedman explains that this option was considered in 1945 before the attack on Hiroshima, but the United States realized that the message would not be clear. They could not show the destructive capacity of their new weapon without making the Japanese feel it. If they were just demonstrating and the pump failed it would have been ridiculous. This outcome is likely in the case of Russia, because although it has regularly tested its missiles, it has not done the same with its nuclear warheads. The last test dates from the beginning of the Cold War. The Americans also ruled out the warning shot in 1945 so as not to alert Japan’s anti-aircraft defenses. In Hiroshima, anti-aircraft sirens sounded, but not sensing the arrival of any squad they went off and people were in the street when the bomb went off. Option two: a limited attack Putin watches the launch of a nuclear-capable missile in Crimea. Alexei Druzhinin / Kremlin / dpaIf the warning shot is of little value, the next thing is to make a first attack. What should be the goal? Freedman argues that the first shot should have value both as a show of force and as an effective strike in the field of operations. That implies attacking on Ukrainian soil, against some vital infrastructure or directly against enemy troops using what are usually defined as tactical nuclear weapons, less destructive than strategic ones. The problem with this option, says Freedman, is that to destroy an infrastructure it is enough conventional weapons and for a nuclear bomb to be effective against the enemy army it must be used against large military concentrations. This type of formation, however, has not been seen in the war in Ukraine because the kyiv army usually defends itself from the invader with scattered units. The American Christopher Chivvis, who worked in the US intelligence services in Europe until 2021, He has recounted that in some simulations by Western experts and military, those playing the role of Russia sometimes chose a nuclear attack in the form of a high-altitude atmospheric explosion that jammed communications in an entire region. “Think of an explosion that leaves Oslo without lights,” he told The Economist. In this case, it could be Kiev. Putin also needs the military chain of command to carry out the nuclear attack knowing the implications that an escalation with nuclear weapons massive destruction it may have for the future of war and Russia.During the atomic exercises of the Cold War, stories abounded about the paralyzing doubts of those who had to carry out a nuclear attack.And that is what, according to some versions, prevented the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating into nuclear armageddon What Happens After the Shot Damage Caused by the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima U.S. Department of Energy Once a nuclear attack is launched, the problems for Russia increase. attacking a neighboring country or military formations opposed to theirs, the wind could return the radioactive dust against their own troops or against the Russian territory itself. And finally, after the pol Vo, Russia’s political problem would still be there. How to pacify a hostile and armed population against its Army? In addition, it does not seem that Putin’s allies, starting with China, are giving him room to maneuver for a nuclear escalation.
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