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Nuclear War? Putin Has Only Bad Options in Ukraine

Russian nuclear weapons. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russia's road-mobile ICBMs that carry nuclear weapons.

Putin Becoming More Isolated, India Rebukes Russia’s War on Ukraine – Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements about a week ago to the contrary, Russia is becoming increasingly isolated internationally, as India and China, two of Moscow’s most prominent supporters, have both raised questions about the invasion of Ukraine.

In response, Putin continued with his standard M.O. threatening to expand the war with “unconventional weapons.”

Speaking at a regional summit of countries comprising the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi admonished Putin stating this isn’t the time for war. His comments come just a day after Putin admitted that China had “questions and concerns” about the war. Putin is also receiving backlash at home for the first time since the “special military operation” has begun. 

“I know that today’s era is not of war,” Modi said to Putin before the start of their meeting. He added that current global challenges for developing countries, like the food and energy crises, profoundly affected. “Today, we will get a chance to discuss how we can move forward on the path of peace.”

Putin is relying on both India and China to prop up Russia’s economy due to the West’s sanctions, and while the rebukes from the two countries in no way signal an end to that, it is clear from their respective comments that Putin’s comments that Russia isn’t isolated are increasingly being proven wrong.

He then tried to pin the blame on the Ukrainian government, stating that they refuse to negotiate. “I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express. We will do our best to stop this as soon as possible,” Putin said to Modi. 

“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine, your concerns that you constantly express. We will do our best to stop this as soon as possible,”

Putin Threatens With “Unconventional Weapons” Over Kyiv’s Gains: 

At the SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Putin made light of the rout that had happened to Russian forces in the Kharkiv region after Ukraine launched a lightning offensive. He then uttered that the West was attempting to break apart Russia. He then said that Russia was in no hurry in Ukraine and that Russia’s goal remained the same.

Putin said with a smile, “The Kyiv authorities announced that they have launched and are conducting an active counter-offensive operation. Well, let’s see how it develops and ends up.”

He also threatened more attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure after Russia’s headlong retreat in the Kharkiv region. “Recently, the Russian armed forces have inflicted a couple of sensitive blows. Let’s assume they’re a warning. If the situation continues to develop (the rout of Russian troops) like this, then the response will be more serious,” he said.

On Saturday, Russian forces hit Kyiv with S-300 surface-to-air missiles, leading to questions if Moscow is running out of precision weapons. 

Biden Warns Putin of “Consequential Response” On Threats: 

President Biden has pledged another $600 million in military aid for Ukraine and was interviewed by CBS’ 60 Minutes. Unlike the situation in earlier months, where the West was worried about angering Putin for fear that he would escalate to unconventional or nuclear weapons, now he and the West are acting more forcefully. 

In a clip of the interview, 60 Minutes asked the president what he would say to Putin if he resorts to weapons of mass destruction if his military continues the downward spiral that they’ve suffered in the past 10 days. 

Russia Ukraine

Vladimir Putin at the opening ceremony of the international military-technical forum.

“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Biden said, leaving no doubt that even a single tactical nuke would be viewed as a point of no return. 

What would the consequences be, the president was asked. “You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course, I’m not gonna tell you. It’ll be consequential,” Biden said. “They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been. And depending on the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.”

Putin Is Not The Man of Action He Tries to Portray:

In a very intriguing piece by Foreign Affairs magazine, Putin has several choices on which way to go with the war in Ukraine, and none of them are especially appealing.

A full or partial mobilization and increasing the size of the military will not happen overnight. Troops will need to be trained and integrated into serving line units. That will take months. And it shatters the myth of its “special military operation,” as ordinary citizens still haven’t been told they are even at war. It would also drive home the true cost of the war in terms of casualties suffered.

But the most exciting part of the piece was that Putin is hardly the decisive “man of action” that he and much of the world’s media likes to portray him as. “Though he is a self-styled man of action, Putin tends to be indecisive when the stakes are high, preferring to step into situations without ever resolving them,” Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage wrote in their piece.

In conflicts in eastern Ukraine after illegally annexing Crimea in 2014, he signed an agreement and threatened for nearly eight years before invading this February. In Syria, he bolstered the forces of embattled President Bashar Assad and turned the tide of the civil war, using many of the same tools he’s using in Ukraine.  


Russian Nuclear Weapons. Image is of a Russian Mobile ICBM. Image Credit – Creative Commons.

Russian forces conducted airstrikes on the civilian population, used thermobaric weapons, and indiscriminately hit civilian targets with artillery, attacking civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, etc.

Now, neither of his forays shows any signs of being resolved soon.

Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

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Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.