Will Russia Use Nukes in Ukraine?

Frustration over lack of gains has prompted some among the Russian elite to float going nuclear

The past month has seen growing alarm in the Russian elite over the stalemate in the so-called “special military operation.” With drone attacks on Moscow and shelling of border towns inside Russia, hardliners are concerned that Russia is losing the war, or at least not delivering the promised victory.

There has been a resurgence of calls for the demonstrative use of a nuclear weapon to compel the West to cut off the supply of arms to Ukraine. Those views were expressed at a May 20 meeting of the Council on Foreign and Security Policy, an influential gathering of officials and think-tankers in Moscow. State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin, a prominent nationalist, said that one participant advocated dropping a nuclear bomb on Rzeszów - the transport hub in south-eastern Poland through which most of the weapons flow into Ukraine. (Zatulin thought that was a bad idea.)

The person proposing to nuke Rzeszów was probably Sergei Karaganov, the head of the Council, since he published an article on June 14 in which he argued for the demonstrative use of a nuclear weapon to force the West to capitulate. The article was entitled “A difficult but necessary decision. The use of nuclear weapons can save humanity from a global catastrophe.”

Karaganov argued that even if Russia wins on the battlefield, it would face an insurgency in the parts of Ukraine it occupies, and the only way to crush the resistance would be to stop the flow of support from the West. He grimly concluded that “truces are possible but reconciliation is not.” The trump card for Russia is its willingness to use a tactical nuclear weapon. Karaganov regretted that people in the West have “lost their fear of hell… have forgotten the horrors of war, they have ceased to be afraid even of nuclear weapons.”

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Source: Responsible Statecraft