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Tags: putin | biden | nuclear

Will Putin Go Nuclear? If So, Biden May Blink

cartoon of putin holding a nuclear missile behind his back in front of a map of ukraine
(Dreamstime/Newsmax illustration)

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz By Monday, 07 November 2022 12:24 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

It’s obvious that the war is not going President Vladimir Putin’s way, if he feels compelled to roll out the nukes. For now the show is primarily to wage psychological warfare against the West and to test the mettle of U.S. President Joe Biden.

Putin most likely would not have attacked Ukraine had Donald Trump been in charge at the White House. Further, the master of the Kremlin would not have resorted to the nuclear blackmail with the 45th U.S. president around. Trump would have undoubtedly called his bluff.

However, as has been obvious for a while, Putin disrespects and underestimates Biden, so he enjoys poking his American counterpart and apparently fearing no consequences.

In fact, Putin behaves like he has little to lose. In February 2022, the Russian leader gave up his most successful game of incrementalism, and, as far as Ukraine, placed a false bet on an all-out war, which now threatens to go nuclear.

Moscow cyclically escalates and de-escalates its nuclear threats. It has reintroduced fear of a nuclear war, a trauma largely absent since the end of the Cold War in 1992, into our international discourse.

It is no longer just the issue of atomic North Korea, which menaces chiefly Japan and South Korea, or of nuclear Iran, which is an existential threat principally to Israel.

It is once again about the Russian Federation, until recently the only country that could destroy the United States for it inherited the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal. Yet China has also reached the same awesome nuclear capacity, even if it largely keeps quite on that account, even against Taiwan.

The Kremlin, however, escalates and de-escalates nuclear threats in congruence with its poor performance on the Ukrainian front stemming from Kiyv’s stamina and America’s (and other allied) military assistance.

It is important to understand that by repeatedly invoking the nuclear danger, Putin normalizes atomic warfare and prepares us for it. He makes sure we are used to this morbid possibility in eastern Europe, in case if the Kremlin actually goes nuclear. Its troops openly train for the scenario.

Here Moscow plays a very shrewd psychological game with the West. Putin has been looking for excuses to blame others, if anything nuclear should happen.

Hence, we have his bogus talk about an alleged “dirty bomb” being prepared by Ukraine. If one should explode, Moscow will blame Kiyv undoubtedly, even if the explosion may be engineered by the Kremlin.

Same concerns the shenanigans over Ukraine’s nuclear plants, in particular the gigantic installation in Zaporozhya, which is under the Russian occupation.

The plant not only comes under periodic Russian missile and artillery attacks, but there have been frequent bulletins announcing power failures and other “mishaps” there. Moscow even agreed to a U.N. inspection which further heated up the atmosphere around the plant.

Even if no nukes go off, then, perhaps, a nuclear industrial disaster may be set up as a handy substitute to blame the Ukrainians for.

And to heat up the atmosphere further, Putin presided over serious live fire nuclear military exercises in Kamchatka.

The Russian president did not need an excuse but he still blamed his nuclear missile tests on Biden for having had rushed (“as scheduled”) new nukes to Europe. In addition, NATO flew its nuclear armed B-52s.

Meanwhile, the Poles have volunteered to house U.S. nuclear weapons and the Biden administration is sympathetic to the request.

Putin’s reaction was to ramp up his anti-Polish rhetoric. According to him, Poland plans “to absorb Ukraine.” And Warsaw intends to “create one unified state from sea to sea (Baltic to Black Sea),” i.e., implement the Intermarium idea, which is quite popular in Ukraine and the Baltics.

This leads one to suspect that Putin may drop a tactical nuclear device not on Ukraine, but on Poland, say, on the airport at Rzeszów, which is the main U.S. logistical hub to supply Ukraine.

Why not? Moscow does not think that Biden is serious about NATO or anything else.

Nuking Poland could be a calculated gamble. If the White House balked before the horror of a nuclear war, then NATO would implode for there would be no Article 5 activation in defense of Poland, which calls for reciprocity.

Brinksmanship is back and let’s hope Biden does not blink. A perception of weakness is a very dangerous handicap. The nukes may result.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.

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Brinksmanship is back and let’s hope Biden does not blink. A perception of weakness is a very dangerous handicap. The nukes may result.
putin, biden, nuclear
Monday, 07 November 2022 12:24 PM
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