Putin’s Allies Are Now Slamming the War Right to His Face
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin in no unclear terms that he thinks Putin’s decision to wage war in Ukraine is a grave error. Modi, who was speaking with Putin in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said now is not the time for war, and lambasted him for continuing to conduct attacks against Ukrainians nearly seven months into the war, according to Reuters. Modi said this was not the first time he had expressed a distaste for Putin’s war. He said he has warned Putin he disapproved of the war over the phone on multiple occasions.
President Vladimir Putin’s thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if Russian “territorial integrity” is threatened has sparked deep discussion in the West as to how it would respond.
In a televised address on Wednesday, the Russian leader said he was not bluffing about using nuclear weapons if Russian territories were threatened, as he announced a partial military mobilisation that would see some 300,000 reserve forces sent to fight in Ukraine
“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction,” Putin said, adding: “This is not a bluff.”
Russia’s mobilization won’t fix its military problems
What Putin’s troop surge can — and can’t — do in Ukraine.Russian President Vladimir Putin this week announced that 300,000 more men would need to fight in his increasingly difficult and costly war in Ukraine. But amid Ukrainian victories, major strategic and personnel problems in the Russian armed forces, and domestic frustrations over the mobilization announcement, whether Putin can accomplish his goals in Ukraine — and the nature of those goals at this stage — isn’t clear.
Analysts are not convinced that Putin is willing to be the first to unleash nuclear weapons since the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.
Several experts and officials spoke with AFP about the possible scenarios that could arise should Russia carry out a nuclear attack.
What would a Russian nuclear attack look like?
Analysts say Moscow would likely deploy one or more “tactical” or battlefield nuclear bombs.
Tactical nukes are small weapons, ranging from 0.3 kilotons to 100 kilotons of explosive power, compared with the 1.2 megatons of the largest US strategic warhead or the 58 megaton bomb Russia tested in 1961.
Tactical bombs are designed to have a limited impact on the battlefield, compared with strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to fight and win all-out wars.
The Russian Clocks Are All Ticking
Putin is running out of time.
But “small” and “limited” are relative: The atomic bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 to devastating effect was just 15 kilotons. © Provided by Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera)
What might Moscow target?
Analysts say Russia’s goal in using a tactical nuclear bomb in Ukraine would be to frighten it into surrender or submission to negotiations, and divide the country’s Western backers.
Mark Cancian, a military expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, said Russia would not likely use nuclear weapons on the front lines.
Capturing 20 miles (32km) of territory could require the use of multiple nuclear bombs – small gains for the huge risks of introducing nuclear weapons and nuclear fallout.
“Just using one will not be enough,” Cancian said.
Moscow could instead send a strong message and avoid significant casualties by detonating a nuclear bomb over water, or exploding one high over Ukraine to generate an electromagnetic pulse that would knock out electronic equipment.
Vladimir Putin used to call out America for its hubris. Now he appears to have fallen into the same trap
Vladimir Putin has regularly warned the West of the dangers of getting stuck in foreign conflicts. So why does he appear to be ignoring his own advice and wading deeper and deeper into his ruinous war with Ukraine?The Ukrainian invasion he thought would take a couple of days in February is about to enter its eighth month.
Or, Putin could opt to attack a Ukrainian military base, or hit an urban centre and generate mass casualties and possibly kill the country’s political leadership.
Such scenarios “would likely be designed to split the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance and global consensus against Putin,” Jon Wolfsthal, a former White House nuclear policy expert, wrote on Friday on Substack.
“It is unclear if it would succeed, and could just as easily be seen as desperation as resolve,” he said. © Provided by Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera)
How should the West respond?
The West has remained ambiguous on how it would respond to a tactical nuclear strike, and the choices are complicated.
The US and NATO do not want to appear weak in front of an implicit nuclear threat. But they also would want to avoid the possibility that the war in Ukraine – not a NATO member – could escalate into a much broader, devastating global nuclear war.
Experts say the West would have no option but to respond to a Russian nuclear attack, and that a response should come from NATO as a group, rather than the US alone.
US would know if Russia prepares nuclear strike: experts
The United States would almost certainly discover ahead of time if Russia was preparing a nuclear strike on Ukraine, and Moscow might very well want it known, nuclear weapons experts say. - Warning the world - The United States warned for weeks before the February 24 invasion that Russia intended to attack Ukraine, seeking to prepare Kyiv and allies -- and possibly deter Moscow from acting. Would Washington warn the world openly if it detected Russia planning a nuclear assault? Doing so could spark unprecedented panic, not only in Ukraine but other areas that could be affected by radioactive fallout.
The US has positioned about 100 of its own tactical nuclear weapons in NATO countries and could respond in kind against Russian forces.
The threat of response would demonstrate resolve and remind Moscow of the danger of its actions, according to Matthew Kroenig of the Atlantic Council.
However, he said, “it might also provoke a Russian nuclear reprisal, raising the risk of a larger nuclear exchange and further humanitarian disaster”.
Another risk is that some NATO members might reject a nuclear response, serving Putin’s aims of weakening the alliance. © Provided by Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera)
Should Ukraine be given more powerful weapons?
Answering a nuclear attack in a more conventional military or diplomatic way, and supplying Ukraine with more lethal arms to attack Russia, could be more effective, experts say.
“Russian nuclear use might provide an opening to convince countries that have so far been reluctant – such as India and possibly even China – to participate in escalating sanctions,” Kroenig said.
In addition, the US could offer Ukraine NATO aircraft, Patriot and THAAD anti-missile batteries, and ATACMS long-range missiles that could be used by Ukraine forces to strike deep inside Russia.
“Whatever restrictions we have on Ukraine forces – and I think we have some restrictions – I think we take all of those off,” Cancian said.
Ukraine war: Will Putin use nuclear weapons? .
Russian president has repeatedly pledged to use all means at his disposal to keep his country safe.It was Putin’s latest thinly veiled nuclear threat to Ukraine and its Western allies since he sent Russian troops into the neighbouring country more than seven months ago.