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Biden’s Nightmare: Putin Could Still Start a Nuclear War over Ukraine

Russia Nuclear War Ukraine
Russia's road-mobile ICBMs that carry nuclear weapons.

Putin Could Still Press the Nuclear Button: Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting like his mercurial self.

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He is vacillating from war to peace – talking about peace negotiations one day and nuclear weapons during other news cycles.

The war in Ukraine is far away from a cease-fire considering that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants the Kremlin to agree to war crimes tribunals and a complete withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, which Russia resists.

This gives Putin more time to rattle the nuclear saber and threaten the world that he would do the unthinkable and unleash nuclear horror on the battlefield.

Ukraine War Is Slowing Down for the Winter

The fighting in Ukraine has slowed down into a stalemate, with most combat is focused on the eastern Donbas town of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian forces are not advancing as they did during the raging counteroffensive it waged earlier this year.

Russia and Ukraine are digging in for the winter. Russian generals are attempting to train the hundreds of thousands of conscripts Putin called up to prepare for his own counteroffensive in January or February.

Ukraine Has Hit Russia Within Its Borders

These do not seem to be the conditions that would force Putin’s hand and encourage him to deploy a nuclear weapon.

But Ukraine is using its own drones to attack bases in Russian territory. So far, these strikes have been more annoying than decisive, but that could change.

The U.S. and NATO Have Unwavering Support for Ukraine

Also, the United States and NATO continue to supply military hardware and ammunition to the Ukrainians which gets under Putin’s skin.

Putin needs his army to make some sort of breakthrough in the war and that could lead to Russia using battlefield tactical nuclear devices to punch a hole through Ukrainian lines and freeze the West into inactivity as Ukrainian allies figure out what to do – a situation where a crisis could be escalated then de-escalated.

Escalation to a Nuclear Crisis Is a Russian Option

This “escalate to de-escalate” stratagem does not require a nuclear weapon detonation as it is designed to frighten the West into curtailing its support for Ukraine and a way for Putin to exit the war in his favor.

The United States would likely respond to a Russian nuclear weapon with the destruction of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet and perhaps limited conventional strikes against the Kremlin’s nuclear infrastructure.

It probably would not mean an American nuclear response, at least at first. It would depend on whether Russia would choose to go nuclear a second time.

The Threat Is Always There

Since Russia is a nuclear power, Ukraine’s allies must take Putin’s threats seriously. Russian television, the source where many Russians get their news, often makes nuclear threats against American cities. This prepares the public for plausible nuclear use.

Arms Control Agreements Are Less Restrictive

One problem that Putin is exploiting is the lack of arms control mechanisms aside from New START treaty that is still in effect. The United States pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019. In 2002, the Americans dropped the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty it had signed with the Soviet Union in 1972.

This creates an environment in which Russia can expand its various nuclear programs such as improving intercontinental ballistic missiles with the Satan II and developing nuclear-tipped torpedoes like the Poseidon.

No American or NATO Active Participation in the War

Putin enjoys an advantage with Russian nuclear weapons. He can ensure that the United States and NATO would not directly attack Russia for fear of sparking nuclear Armageddon. This is an effective deterrent for Russia to focus on its Near Abroad former Soviet states such as Ukraine, Latvia, and Georgia.

Russia has a definite sphere of influence, even if Moscow waves the white flag and stops the war or enters into peace negotiations with a cease fire.

Thus, nuclear deterrence is a major part of Russian strategy, and if this means making threats, so be it. Moscow will not be afraid to escalate toward a nuclear crisis and de-escalate the situation once it has frightened the West. Russia’s use of nuclear weapons is always a plausible scenario, even if their use is not probable at this time. Russia can always play the final nuclear card. Putin has control over the world’s largest nuclear arsenal at around 6,000 warheads.

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The nuclear option creates a situation that puts Ukraine and the West at a distinct disadvantage, even if Russia continues to maintain that it would only go nuclear in a defensive situation.

Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations. 

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. Jacksonian Libertarian

    December 28, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    “A barking dog never bites”

    The Russians have harped on their nuclear weapons from the very beginning of the invasion, in order to nuclear blackmail weak western leaders like Biden. This tactic has been very successful in modifying western logistical support for Ukraine, and the involvement of NATO forces. But if they were really going to use Nukes, they wouldn’t be screaming about it dozens of times a day.

  2. Friend

    December 28, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    It means that the dog is barking offensively, but it wouldn’t attack. People will often give hints that they are about to lose it. It’s not only dumb to ignore those signals, it’s probably illegal too.
    Russia wants a nuclear stalemate, not a nuclear war, so a score of 0:0 is preferable to the score of 1:1. Once that’s achieved, they can the intimidate smaller countries with their conventional army, which is all the countries east of France, because only they have a nuke of their own.
    America should not ignore this expansion because it could rejuvenate Russia and also give it access to the seas. Not to mention that America would become an authoritarian state like Russia and China, since democracy would use all utility.
    You’re just lucky that Ukraine has put the clamps on, for now.

  3. 403Forbidden

    December 29, 2022 at 1:20 am

    Heh, Mr Eastwood, you are highly correct.

    Putin would be a damned fool not to use nukes against the neo-nazi ukros.

    Use of nukes against biden’s cherished foot soldiers in ukraine will cause biden to bang his balls in a daytime mid-morning fully conscious and totally awake nightmare.

    Biden has to quickly and speedily decide if his first order of business (business of war) should be to neutralize china & north korea & iran. Then focus on russia.

    But biden could start trembling and begin shaking his balls non-stop at the thought of nuking xi jinping who is his family’s best pal.

    Biden and xi jinping are two renown globalist conquistadors-in-arms and thus biden is likely to go ape when putin starts employing nukes in ukraine.

    Bye-bye, 2024.

  4. Mario

    December 29, 2022 at 10:28 am

    “A barking dog never bites”
    Totally agree with Jacksonian. You don’t warn yourself a thousand times about your intentions. Three is more than enough. From there, you talk about something your own minions won’t let you use.

  5. Arm Chair Airsofter

    December 30, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    Since the start of the war I’ve been coming to 19fortyfive regularly for the excellent content and the humor I get from the Russian trolls.

    With regards to the article, Putin will not use nukes because of retaliation in the form of Ukraine’s biological weapons (speaking of barking dogs). Ukraine did not sign off on giving up their nukes without keeping some type of deterrence.

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