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Would Putin Start a Nuclear War if Biden Gave ATACMS to Ukraine?

Russia Nuclear Weapons
Russia's Nuclear Weapons. Here is an image of Russian Mobile ICBMs. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

How Would Russia Strike Back If Biden Did Give ATACMS to Ukraine? – The White House this week announced a new round of military aid for Ukraine that once again didn’t include the long-range missiles Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been requesting since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Rumors circulated over the last week that President Joe Biden was mulling the possibility of sending long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rockets, which have a maximum firing range of 186 miles, to be used in Ukraine’s 16 HIMARS rocket launchers already donated by the United States. Longer-range rockets would allow Ukraine to more easily launch strikes on Russian territory – potentially hundreds of miles into Russian territory, presuming they were launched from newly-liberated Kharkiv.

Bidens’ repeated refusal to provide the rockets reflects real concerns that Russia would consider any donation of long-range weapons as an escalation – something confirmed by the Kremlin this week when Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said gifting the missiles would cross a “red line.”

Despite recent Russian losses, the war is still very much raging, and there is still plenty of time for the White House to change course and begin providing the long-range missile systems Zelenskyy wants. But how would Russia react?

Strikes On NATO Soil

One possible outcome would be Russian strikes on NATO soil. A decision like this would carry potentially catastrophic consequences, triggering NATO mechanisms designed to pool the resources of all 30 NATO countries to protect any nation-state attacked by a foreign power.

Russia may simply choose to direct strikes on NATO territory as an act of aggression or may follow through on previous threats of striking incoming weaponry. Russia has already conducted strikes on ammunition depots and warehouses containing Western-supplied military equipment but waited until that equipment was on Ukrainian soil before launching the strikes.

If the West gifts long-range missiles, the Kremlin may choose to take things one step further and launch strikes on convoys transporting the missile systems on NATO soil.

Tactical Nuclear Strikes? 

While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been very clear that he considers the war in Ukraine to be unrelated to the “existential threat” required for Russia to consider a nuclear strike, Russian officials have repeatedly warned about the possibility of a nuclear strike since the early days of the war.

With Russian troops fleeing, more prisoners being recruited to the Russian military, and tanks lost on the battlefield, Russia may see the delivery of long-range missiles as an existential threat. In this case, Putin may have the justification he needs to launch a tactical nuclear strike.


ATACMS firing back in 2006. Image Credit: U.S. Army.

Whether Putin launches a nuclear attack or conducts rocket launches on NATO soil, he’ll be risking a greater, global conflict – and one that he doesn’t have the resources to fight.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.



  1. Yrral

    September 17, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    70 percent of Ukrainain infrastructure will be destroyed by Christmas,at this pace,even Israel do not support Ukraine Google Israel Zelensky

  2. Mr. Gray

    September 18, 2022 at 8:38 am

    I believe Russia will be the nation to start a nuclear war, even ahead of N Korea, but it won’t be over ATACMS. It will be a response to Russia’s failed invasion of Israel when it comes.

  3. Walt D

    September 18, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Putin threatened to incinerate any nation that “interfered” with his invasion of Ukraine from the beginning.

    Demented, corrupt Joe Biden is a fool who invited Putin to invade Ukraine with his publicly saying publicly what his handlers said privately. An “incursion” into Ukraine is fine. Putin heard and said, go take it all.

    The HIMARs have limits on use and the same would be true for these missiles used from the same launchers.

    The ChiComs are already publicly moving away from Putin. They don’t want to see this reduce their argument on retaking Taiwan. They see a loser and they don’t even want to count Putin as a secondary ally in the ChiCom-Russia Alliance.

    Communist China just urinated on Putin in Kazahkstan defending its sovereignty against Putin and Russia’s imperialistic agenda.


  4. Froike

    September 18, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    I hate to give Putah the bad news….ATACMS were in Ukraine for several weeks already.

  5. Rachel

    September 18, 2022 at 12:57 pm

    First off this is some top notch Fear Porn. I would like to ask the writer Why should I give a rats you know what, as to what Putin does in Ukraine ?? First of all, apparently the place is crawling with Real Life NAZI’s, Baby Farms, yes Farms, and that country also leads the world in Stem Cell treatments, I wonder where they get all those stem cells ?? Oh yea, the baby farms. Not to mention the 48 biolabs that everyone swore didn’t exist, but now the DOD openly acknowledges, but they are good biolabs right ? Let’s give it a brake. Ukraine is the deep states playground. Money laundering seems to be it’s real reason for existence. That with human trafficking, and a little oil and gas. This whole mess is no one’s fault except for America and the EU with the WEF. I say instead of sending in any more weapons and money. We rid ourselves of this sick psychotic so called leadership we have in about every country that thinks Ukraine is worth starting a nuclear war over. Putin can have to whole dam place if he wants it. Time for the world to rise up and rid ourselves of the fools who have managed to get themselves in leadership roles. Cut the heads off the fools and see how fast it all stops.

  6. Sam Smith

    September 18, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    General Patton creed: engagements, battles, wars that were fought quickly, decisively, and with brute force saved lives in the long run. Patton knew well after fighting in WWI what happened when forces got bogged down.
    White House said that it is “not something the president wants to do,” Smells like the politicians who lost Vietnam with imposed restrictions and Afghanistan, WAIT! That was Biden..

  7. Cheetah

    September 18, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    Putin may be crazy, but he isn’t stupid. He has more to lose than to gain by using tactical nukes. Think about it, where is there a sufficient concentration of power to warrant a tactical nuke? Forces are spread wide and the use of a nuke would be only for psychological effect. But he knows that would strengthen the resolve of the EU and NATO to oppose him. Besides, Chicom would oppose it and Putin would not want to risk alienating them.

  8. Pleiades

    September 18, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    Rachel, please take your meds and seek more therapy. You are as deluded as Putin and Trump.

  9. Vladimir

    September 19, 2022 at 11:40 am

    I am Russian and I can say one thing, if you drive Russia into a corner, Putin will launch a nuclear strike against the West. I don’t doubt it for a minute. see you in hell.

  10. Dan J

    September 19, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    We are at a point of inflection. The post war world order is ending an we are going from the Information Age to whatever comes next. Most likely a techno autocracy and multipolar world. This century will be dark and hellish without western civilization and Judaea Christian values to guide is. Just dark human impulse and (nearly) unlimited power through technology.

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