Russia Staged Nuclear War Rehearsal, U.S. Responds: A report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project suggested recently that if the United States and NATO “overreact” to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it could push Moscow to use nuclear weapons. The report appears to explain why Russia could be preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and comes as Russia prepares for the possibility of a nuclear conflict.
According to the war researchers, continued military and financial support for Ukraine could be enough to push Putin to use nuclear weapons by nature of the Russian military being “weaker conventional military power than many in the US had imagined.”
That could, then, explain why the Russian military just staged a rehearsal for nuclear war, with video footage of the wargames being aired on state television. The TV coverage showed footage of Russian submarines, strategic bombers and missile forces practicing launching nuclear weapons.
The wargames, however, were pitched as a rehearsal for a Russian response to the use of nuclear weapons, and not necessarily a Russian escalation. While Putin and Kremlin spokespeople have repeatedly talked about the possibility of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons to defend its borders in the event of an “existential threat,” the Kremlin recently pivoted its strategy by warning defense secretaries and world leaders of an expected “false flag” nuclear attack to be initiated by Ukraine.
When calling European defense ministers and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Russian Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu did not provide evidence for the Kremlin’s claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb and blame the attack on Russia.
White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the news this week, stating that it would be a “major mistake” for Russia to use any kind of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Jean-Pierre also said that the White House is taking the threat of the use of a dirty bomb seriously.
“It would be a major mistake for Russia to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine leading to severe consequences,” Jean-Pierre said in a daily briefing. “we must take this seriously because in the past we have seen Russia use allegations as a pretext to escalate.”
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned the Russian president this week of the huge consequences that would follow a nuclear strike.
“We’ve communicated that very clearly and directly to the Russians, including President Putin,” Blinken said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re concerned.”
Blinken also suggested that the United States believes that Russia’s claims of Ukraine planning a dirty bomb false flag attack was just “another fabrication” from the Kremlin, suggesting that Russia could be preparing to use a dirty bomb to spread nuclear material over specific parts of Ukraine.
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.