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Opinion: When, Why And How Putin Might Use Nukes

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12:13 pm
March 23, 2022


claymanculas

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Posts: 12

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-Opinion: When, Why And How Putin Might Use Nukes

We must assume that a man like Vladimir Putin is capable of anything, even the use of nuclear weapons. The Russian President has made abundantly clear that human life is worth nothing to him unless it’s his own. And there are scenarios in which he might calculate diabolically that launching one or more nukes could keep him in power and save his skin.

That’s because we’ve entered a world that, in strategic terms, resembles Europe in the volatile early years of the Cold War more than during its relatively stable later stages. The effect is to scrap old notions of deterrence and raise the risk of accidental nuclear Armageddon.

In the years following World War II, the U.S. knew that its forces in western Europe were inferior to the Soviet Union’s and probably wouldn’t withstand its onslaught. To compensate, the Americans stationed comparatively low-yield (but of course still unimaginably devastating) nuclear warheads on the soil of European allies. The message was that, in case of a Soviet attack, NATO might drop a few of these on the battlefield to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

But as the nuclear arms race progressed, the Soviet Union caught up and “strategic” weapons became more prominent. These are larger bombs that can be launched, for example, on intercontinental missiles from the homeland of one side against that of the other. They would take out entire cities at a time.

Apocalyptic as it sounds, this balance of terror has so far saved us from nuclear war. In one metaphor, West and East were personified by two people standing in the same room, up to their waists in gasoline. Each had some number of matches. But neither lit up, because both would go up in flames. Appropriately, this stalemate was called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).

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In the two decades during which Putin has ruled Russia, however, the strategic big picture has changed yet again. In a sense, it has reverted to the situation just after World War II, but with the roles reversed.

Now it is Russia that suspects its army is inferior to NATO’s in a conventional war. Therefore, it is Putin who’s compensating for that weakness by threatening the use of tactical nukes to win battles or wars that initially aren’t going well for him. Rather oxymoronically, this approach is called “escalate to de-escalate.”

For that purpose, Russia - which is roughly even with the U.S. in strategic nukes - has gained an edge of 10:1 in tactical weapons. It has roughly 2,000; America has only about 200, half of which are stationed in Europe.

Putin has already hinted several times that he might dip into his prodigious arsenal if NATO were to cross his red lines. And because he confuses his own fate with his country’s, he’s apt to interpret any threat of personal humiliation or regime change in Moscow as such a line.

Say the Ukrainians - who are fighting heroically against the surprisingly incompetent Russian invaders - come close to winning. Or that a hypersonic Russian missile strays into Poland, a NATO member. Or that the West delivers weapons to Ukraine that could tilt the war. Any of these twists could make Putin fear his imminent demise - and escalate.

His first strike would demonstrate intent. He could drop a low-yield bomb on an empty forest or the open sea, just to show he means business. As a next step, he could nuke a specific enemy weapons depot, army base or battalion - in any case, not yet an entire city. The variable yields of tactical warheads make such fine-tuning possible - you can play with scenarios on this Nukemap.

Putin would thereby signal his determination to go all the way, gambling that the U.S. and its allies will not retaliate in kind. In his mind, he’d be calling the West’s bluff. Cold War leaders on both sides knew they couldn’t win a nuclear war. If Putin ever launches, it’s because he reckons he can.

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But would he? NATO, and especially the U.S., must now prepare for harrowing decisions after a Russian first strike. Should the West detonate its own low-yield nuke, to show resolve? Where would both sides go from there?

Once these weapons - the deadliest in all of human history no matter their yield - start going off, the risk of misunderstandings, errors, and accidents soars. A “limited” strike by one side will still feel cataclysmic to the other. And the missiles fly so fast, the other side would have only minutes to respond. The temptation to “use it or lose it” would rise.

Long before the nuclear age, a bookish Prussian officer who’d witnessed the Napoleonic battles opined “On War.” Carl von Clausewitz grasped the inherent tension between generals trying to keep war limited and war wanting to become absolute, ending in the total destruction of one or all parties.

The imperative, Clausewitz concluded, is to always align tactics and strategy. “War is nothing but the continuation of politics with other means,” he wrote in his most famous (and often misunderstood) phrase. He meant you must only fight the kind of war that makes the ensuing peace tolerable. Let’s pray there are people left in Moscow who understand that.

-”We Would Rather Die Than Kneel”: Kyiv Mayor Says Russians Pushed Back
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were battles raging on the northern and eastern outskirts of the city, and that “the small city of Makariv and almost all of Irpin is already under the control of Ukrainian soldiers”.

Kyiv: Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops in several areas around Kyiv, the city’s mayor said Wednesday, vowing to defend every building rather than surrender the capital.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were battles raging on the northern and eastern outskirts of the city, and that “the small city of Makariv and almost all of Irpin is already under the control of Ukrainian soldiers”.

Irpin borders Kyiv to the east, and Makariv is located some 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the west.

Fierce exchanges of artillery fire took place in Irpin and Lyutizh to the north of Kyiv, with considerable activity behind the front lines in Irpin, AFP journalists said.

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A Ukrainian news agency spoke of a possible encirclement of Russian troops at Irpin, as well as Bucha and Hostomel, which are located in the western outskirts of Kyiv.

Klitschko said he didn’t have any more detailed information of ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensives.

Russian troops quickly pushed to the outskirts of Kyiv after invading the country on February 24, but their attempt to encircle and enter the city have failed.

The “target of aggressors is the capital of Ukraine … because the city is the heart of the country,” former boxing champion Klitschko told a news conference in a city park overlooking the Dnipro river.

He urged Russian soldiers to go back home and said Ukrainians are ready to defend Kyiv building by building.
“We would rather die than kneel in front of the Russians or surrender to the invaders,” said Klitschko.

“We are ready to fight for each building, each street, every part of our city.”

A residential neighbourhood in northwestern Kyiv came under bombardment Wednesday morning, with several buildings damaged and four people wounded.

A count kept by city authorities puts the civilian fatalities in the capital at 73, including four children, since the start of the invasion. Another 297 people have been wounded.

The Ukrainian capital has been under curfew since the beginning of the week. Klitschko said the measure was necessary because of information from the military about possible attacks.

-Putin Adviser Chubais Quits Over Ukraine War, Leaves Russia
Anatoly Chubais gave Putin his first Kremlin job in the mid-1990s and initially welcomed his rise to power at the end of that decade

Russian climate envoy Anatoly Chubais has stepped down and left the country, citing his opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the situation, becoming the highest-level official to break with the Kremlin over the invasion.
Chubais, 66, is one of the few 1990s-era economic reformers who’d remained in Putin’s government and had maintained close ties with Western officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Known as the architect of Russia’s 1990s privatizations, Chubais gave Putin his first Kremlin job in the mid-1990s and initially welcomed his rise to power at the end of that decade. Under Putin, Chubais took top jobs at big state companies until the president named him envoy for sustainable development last year.
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Chubais announcing his resignation in a letter to colleagues and friends Tuesday, according to people who saw it. Last week, he hinted at a darkened outlook, saying in a post on Facebook on the anniversary of the death of Yegor Gaidar that the fellow economic reformer “understood the strategic risks better than I did and I was wrong.”

In his 2006 book, “Death of Empire,” Gaidar warned of the temptations of imperial nostalgia for the Soviet Union he saw growing under Putin. “It’s not difficult to convince society that a state that collapsed so suddenly can be just as quickly rebuilt,” he wrote. “That’s an illusion, a dangerous one.”
Since the war, the government has stepped up pressure on domestic critics of the invasion. Putin warned on March 16 that he would cleanse Russia of the “scum and traitors” he accuses of working covertly for the U.S. and its allies. Facing economic meltdown, the Russian leader accused the West of wanting to destroy Russia.

“Any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said. “I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.”
Last week, Arkady Dvorkovich, who was senior economic adviser to Dmitry Medvedev during his presidency and a deputy prime minister until 2018, stepped down as head of the state-backed Skolkovo technology fund after condemning the invasion. Dvorkovich, who’s also president of the International Chess Federation, is one of only a few former senior officials to speak out against the war.

-Terrifying Video Shows China Plane Nosedive In Final Seconds
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China Plane Crash: A villager was quoted by AFP as telling a local site that the plane had “completely fallen apart” and he had seen nearby forest areas destroyed by a fire.

New Delhi: A China Eastern passenger plane that crashed into the mountains today with 132 people on board is seen diving straight into the ground in terrifying footage captured by a security camera.

The video was caught by a local mining company’s security camera, according to reports.

The Boeing 737 aircraft was flying from Kunming city to Guangzhou when it “lost airborne contact over Wuzhou” city in the Guangxi region, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The plane crashed in Teng county near Wuzhou and caused a mountain fire. Rescue workers have found no signs of any survivors, according to reports.

Flight Mu5735, in its final seconds, was seen in a nosedive at a great speed before it crashed into the mountains.

-Chinese President “Shocked” Over Plane Crash, Orders Probe Into Cause

“We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident,” state broadcaster CCTV reported Chinese President Xi Jinping said.

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was “shocked” by Monday’s crash of a passenger plane carrying 132 people in the country’s southwest and called for an investigation into the accident, state media reported.

“We are shocked to learn of the China Eastern MU5735 accident,” state broadcaster CCTV reported Xi saying, while he also called for “all efforts” towards the rescue and to find out the “cause of the accident as soon as possible”.

-Ukraine President Calls On Europe To Halt All Trades With Russia

“Please do not sponsor the weapons of war of this country, of Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on European leaders Monday to cease all trade with Russia in an effort to pressure Moscow to halt its nearly month-long military assault on his country.

“Please do not sponsor the weapons of war of this country, of Russia. No euros for the occupiers. Close all of your ports to them. Don’t export them your goods. Deny energy resources. Push for Russia to leave Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video address.

Addressing Germany directly, he said: “You have the strength. Europe has the strength.”

His appeal comes as several countries in the EU, including the Baltic states, have called for an embargo on Russian oil and gas imports.

Germany has opposed an outright halt on Russian energy imports.

EU foreign ministers are meeting Monday to discuss Ukraine and a possible tightening of sanctions.

The Kremlin earlier Monday cautioned against a European oil embargo, saying the move could “hit everyone”.

“Such an embargo would have very serious consequences for the world energy market. It will have a very serious negative impact on Europe’s energy balance,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The United States this month announced a ban on Russian oil and gas, while Britain has said it will cut out Russian oil imports by the end of this year.

-Terrifying Video Shows China Plane Nosedive In Final Seconds

China Plane Crash: A villager was quoted by AFP as telling a local site that the plane had “completely fallen apart” and he had seen nearby forest areas destroyed by a fire.

New Delhi: A China Eastern passenger plane that crashed into the mountains today with 132 people on board is seen diving straight into the ground in terrifying footage captured by a security camera.

The video was caught by a local mining company’s security camera, according to reports.

The Boeing 737 aircraft was flying from Kunming city to Guangzhou when it “lost airborne contact over Wuzhou” city in the Guangxi region, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The plane crashed in Teng county near Wuzhou and caused a mountain fire. Rescue workers have found no signs of any survivors, according to reports.

Flight Mu5735, in its final seconds, was seen in a nosedive at a great speed before it crashed into the mountains.

— ChinaAviationReview March 21, 2022

Flight tracker FlightRadar24 showed that the plane had sharply dropped from an altitude of 29,100 feet to 9,075 feet in 2.15 minutes. In another 20 seconds, its altitude was 3,225 feet, before flight information stopped.

This decline in altitude, from cruising to landing, usually takes about 30 minutes.

FlightRadar24 showed no more data for MU5735 after 2:22 pm local time, when it had reached Wuzhou.

Worries about a plane crash started when local media reported that China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived as planned in Guangzhou after taking off from Kunming a little after 1:00 pm.


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