Is Trump Right About Sending Tanks to Ukraine? – Former President Donald Trump criticized a decision by the White House and the German government to send Western tanks to Ukraine on Thursday, arguing that the move could ultimately escalate the conflict.
Trump also said that bringing the war to an end was “easy,” but insisted that sending advanced tanks to Ukraine would only push Russia to deploy nuclear weapons.
“FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do,” the former president said on Truth Social.
Donald Trump: Is He Right?
The Kremlin has repeatedly made it clear that the only result acceptable to them is the ceding of land from Ukraine to Russia, for Kyiv to accept the “new reality” that its territories are now part of the Russian Federation, and for Western countries to stop expanding NATO closer and closer to Russia’s borders.
On December 13, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that the Ukrainian side “needs to consider the realities that have developed on the ground” before negotiations can restart and eventually succeed.
Vladimir Putin and top Russian officials have repeatedly claimed to be in favor of peace negotiations with Ukraine, under the proviso that Ukraine simply accepts virtually all of Russia’s original demands.
And even after the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning nuclear war, that same statement – which at face value is an effort to reduce heightening tensions and talk of nuclear war – included a caveat that would give Russia an excuse to deploy a nuclear weapon.
That caveat? A threat to Russia’s existence as a state, including a threat to territories in Ukraine that Moscow claims to have annexed in September.
“Russia is strictly and consistently governed by the postulate that nuclear war is impermissible, there can be no winner in it, and it must never be unleashed. Russian doctrine in this area is extremely clearly defined, it is purely defensive in orientation and does not permit broad interpretation,” the statement reads.
It then goes on to outline the circumstances under which Russia would deploy nuclear weapons.
“A reaction by Russia with the use of nuclear weapons is hypothetically allowed only in response to aggression carried out with WMDs, or with conventional weapons if the very existence of the state is under threat,” it reads.
That means that a Ukrainian assault on Russia, using conventional weapons, that is so effective it threatens Russia’s occupation of some parts of Ukraine is technically a condition required for Russia to use nuclear weapons.
When former President Donald Trump says that sending tanks to Ukraine from Western countries could lead to a nuclear conflict, he is technically right. This is what Moscow has said, and it’s also a logical conclusion to draw based entirely on Putin’s approach to the conflict, his steadfast commitment to taking control of Ukrainian territory, and his obvious fear of being embarrassed on the world stage and ultimately removed from power.
It is also entirely possible, however, that Russia’s words are only words.
Nobody really knows what Moscow would do, but it does seem hard to imagine a scenario where Russia uses nuclear weapons and does not find itself even more isolated, weakened, and economically damaged than it is already.
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.