March 25, 2023

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What does Putin want to achieve with nuclear threats. By decreeing mobilization, he can no longer afford to lose this war

Putin’s nuclear threats are designed to manipulate global uncertainty and sow confusion — and they’re working, experts say.

Putin’s recent nuclear threats have prompted a range of responses from key players in the war. One expert told Insider that Putin is likely hoping to cause confusion and uncertainty with his warning.

However, analysts say the risk of nuclear war remains low despite the escalation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat last week sent the world into crisis – doing exactly what he hoped, according to experts.

Despite the reckless escalation, experts and analysts alike have said in recent days that the threat of nuclear war remains minimal.

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“There are a lot of steps he would take to convince the world of his seriousness and to put pressure on Ukraine and the West before using nuclear weapons,” said Paul D’Anieri, a political science professor at the University of California and author of Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War.

“The mobilization has turned this war into one that Putin can no longer afford to lose”

But that doesn’t mean Putin won’t call on his nuclear arsenal to sow fear in the meantime.

Putin probably has no desire to risk World War III seven months after invading Ukraine. But his televised threat last week certainly reminds us of Russia’s “stockpile” of more than 5,000 nuclear warheads.

Putin stepped up his nuclear threats in a speech last week during which he announced a partial mobilization order, recruiting hundreds of thousands of reservists in a move he hopes will give his depleted military a triumphant boost in the field of battle.

But experts say the mobilization, along with the nuclear threat, has also narrowed the range of acceptable outcomes that Russia could reasonably consider a victory in Ukraine.

“The mobilization has turned this war into one that Putin can no longer afford to lose,” D’Anieri told Insider. “That makes it more likely that he will do something really drastic, like use nuclear weapons.”

Putin’s threat raises the stakes for several key players in the conflict.

Where Russia might use a nuclear weapon

Ukraine has always had the most to lose in this war, and the renewed threat of nuclear war only heightens the stakes for the country.

Despite experts’ assessment that the likelihood of an imminent Russian nuclear show is low, Ukraine offered an alarmist assessment of the danger this week.

In an interview with The Guardian, Vadum Skibitsky, a deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence services, put the likelihood of Russia striking Ukraine with a tactical nuclear weapon at “very high.”

“They will probably target places along the front line with a lot of armed equipment,” he told the press. “To stop them, we need not just more anti-aircraft systems, but also anti-missile systems.”

The military official has offered no evidence for his claims, and officials in his organization have repeatedly spread baseless theories.

But Ukraine may have good reason to be alarmist, as many analysts believe that Putin’s nuclear invocation is also an attempt to manipulate the US into limiting its support for Ukraine.

“The beauty for him is that he thinks he can bomb Ukraine and nobody will want to attack Russia in retaliation”

“Putin is now raising the bar and counting on the fact that we’re not going to go to nuclear war over Ukraine, which will lead the West to tell Ukraine to negotiate a solution, which is essentially a victory for Russia,” D’Anieri said.

A blatant nuclear reminder, Putin hopes, could scare the West into reducing or cutting aid to Ukraine, experts have suggested — aid that has helped Ukraine record a string of recent victories.

“The beauty of it for him is that he thinks he could bomb Ukraine and nobody in the West would want to attack Russia in retaliation,” D’Anieri said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has an incentive to raise the threat of nuclear war in an effort to garner even more support from the country’s Western allies, who have nuclear weapons of their own.

Putin has repeatedly hinted at Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal since the start of the war, but his latest threat prompted a more reactive response on the international stage.

President Joe Biden and other White House officials have publicly condemned the Russian president’s comments and privately warned the Kremlin of dire consequences if the country violates the global non-use of nuclear weapons standard, which has been in place since 1945.

In addition to issuing its own warnings to Russia, the US also aims to bring the global community onto the ground of nuclear concern. Politico reported this week that there are growing calls inside and outside the Biden administration to urge China and India — two allies of Moscow with access to nuclear weapons of their own — to take a stand on Putin’s threats.

Meanwhile, US officials are watching for signs that Russia has changed the location of its nuclear weapons or their alert status, but have seen no change.

Putin’s threats undoubtedly did exactly what he hoped, D’Anieri said: He caused fear and confusion.

“I think what Putin is kind of trying to do, and probably succeeding in doing, is to manipulate the uncertainty so that people in the West are now more worried than he is about what might happen,” he added. said the expert.

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