Debating the Ukraine War

“This story is as big [as], if not bigger, than 9/11 and the fall of the Soviet Union,” Katerji said, comments that have partially echoed those made by Britain’s foreign secretary. “We’re just at the start of it. We have no idea what the consequences of this will be long term or even in the near short term.” he biggest unknown is not when this war will end—because it won’t anytime soon—but where. Yasmeen Surham

“It’s the first all-out war of aggression in Europe since 1945. China appears to be edging closer to a bruised Russia. The United States and its allies have not been as unified in decades, with even Germany waking up to the need to rearm. Now, the shock of war has the Biden administration scrambling to rewrite its national security blueprint.” Stefan Thiel

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Institute for the Study of War | National Interest

Is the risk of nuclear war high?


‘Nuclear war is coming’ Putin’s mouthpiece threatens west with ‘World War 3’ warning

Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheyev used Russia’s state-controlled TV to send a nuclear warning to the West. Speaking on Russia’s Channel 1, he threatened that the weapons that keep reaching Ukraine will see the war in Ukraine escalate into WW3. “The nuclear war is coming”, he added after warning “[the West] don’t understand what happens next”.

Nuclear Force Drills

Reuters reports that Russia’s nuclear forces are holding drills in the Ivanovo province, northeast of Moscow. The report comes from Interfax news agency, citing the Russian defence ministry on Wednesday.

Some 1,000 servicemen are exercising in intense manoeuvres using over 100 vehicles including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, it said.

The report came shortly after Biden announced the US would be sending a $700m package of security assistance, including medium range missiles, to Ukraine.

Is Nuclear Use in Ukraine Inevitable?

A number of well-respected national security professionals, including former Assistant Secretary of Defense Graham Allison, CIA director William Burns, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, are beginning to sound the alarm that the Biden administration’s decision to fight an undeclared proxy war against Russia is greatly increasing the chances that Russian president Vladimir Putin will resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Indeed, Allison estimated that if the Armed Forces of Ukraine successfully recaptured a substantial portion of Russian-held territory in Ukraine, the chances that Putin would resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons would increase to approximately 75 percent. For their part, Burns and Haines respectively warned that Putin could use the nuclear option if Russian military forces either fell substantially short of reaching their objectives in Ukraine or appeared to be losing the war. Given that the Biden administration’s avowed goal in arming Ukraine is to cause Russia to lose the war in Ukraine, it appears that the Biden administration’s policy is raising the risk that Putin will escalate to the nuclear level.

Russia criticises US decision to supply Ukraine with medium-range rocket systems

Russia has said that a US decision to supply advanced rocket systems and munitions to Ukraine was extremely negative and would increase the risk of a direct confrontation.

Reuters reports that the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told the state news agency RIA Novosti that Moscow viewed US military aid to Ukraine “extremely negatively”.

Ryabkov singled out US plans to supply Kyiv with its high mobility artillery rocket system (Himars) – a multiple rocket launcher system that Washington said it would supply to Ukraine as part of its latest military aid package.

Can Russia and the West Survive a Nuclear Crisis in Ukraine?

he Russo-Ukrainian War may soon produce a major U.S.-Russian nuclear crisis. Despite President Joe Biden’s occasional cautionary remarks that he understands the risk of nuclear escalation in the event of a direct clash between U.S. and Russian forces, there are other ways that a very dangerous moment can emerge. Widespread optimism about our ability to avoid such an outcome depends greatly on the assumption that both sides are very cautious where nuclear weapons are concerned and have assimilated that caution into their conduct of the war. This is false.

The critical tools for the avoidance of escalation of any war are the limitation of ends and the limitation of means. These tools are disappearing fast. It is apparent from leaks in several media outlets that the United States is itself deeply involved in the Ukrainian war effort. We are providing billions, and soon tens of billions of dollars in military assistance, and this assistance seems likely to involve ever more sophisticated and longer-range weapons. We are providing the Ukrainians with intelligence to support defensive and offensive operations, such as the sinking of a major Russian warship. Even the defensive intelligence assistance has supported provocative actions. Russian officers at the front are legitimate and useful targets for Ukraine, but not for us. Yet, the United States has apparently assisted these efforts.

Ukrainian forces seem to be raiding across the Russian border. From a strictly military point of view, this makes sense. From the point of view of escalation control, this sacrifices a critical and useful firebreak. Russia does not raid Ukraine’s sources of resupply across the border of NATO countries; Ukraine should not raid the Russian army’s source of resupply in Russia. It does not help that senior British officials have applauded the idea of these raids. Russia’s sponsorship of assassination attempts on British soil certainly deserves some payback. Britain has gotten its payback through the extraordinary tactical success of the anti-tank guided missiles they have supplied to Ukraine. The British, of all people, should remember the meaning of “a bridge too far.

Vladimir Putin’s Pyrrhic Choices in Ukraine

Russia still has many cards to play, from the mobilization of large numbers of reservists to an expansion of conventional attacks on civilians and economic infrastructure. That said, one can imagine circumstances in which the “tactical” use of nuclear weapons to achieve battlefield effects might seem reasonable, even though Russian president Vladimir Putin and his advisors surely know that this is risky business.

It is not hard to imagine what a “theater nuclear” war plan might attempt. The Russians have surely already drawn one up. They would identify their problem as the fountain of U.S. and European weapons reaching Ukrainian forces at the front. They have attempted in recent days to “interdict” this flow of weaponry by attacking railroad infrastructure and airports. But historically, even very good air forces have found interdiction to be a challenge. And Russia only has a mediocre air force. Nuclear strikes with “low yield” weapons on bridges, railroads, and airfields would make it much harder for Ukrainian forces to resupply themselves. Selected strikes against Ukrainian military forces in the field would take the pressure off Russian units. Tactical nuclear targeting was once a high art in both NATO and the Soviet Union. Common sense and a map suggest that even a half dozen attacks could make a difference, but given that today’s Russian army is clearly the descendant of the Soviet Army, their style of military planning would suggest several dozen targets. Ukraine has no nuclear weapons; it cannot respond in kind. Ukraine is not a NATO ally; no other country is committed to the nuclear defense of Ukraine. The Russian leadership may, if the conventional war goes badly enough, reach for a nuclear trump card. We should think hard about what even their preparations for such an attack would set in motion.

The most serious form of escalation would be a limited nuclear strike aimed against Ukraine, against a NATO country, or against the United States. There are advocates within Putin’s circle of advisors for such action, but is it likely? It seems conceivable that the Russians might consider the use of a nuclear weapon against an isolated Ukrainian military target. The aim of such a strategic strike would be to both terrorize Ukraine and, more importantly, scare Europeans into believing the war has become too dangerous, and making all sides willing to seek an end to the war on terms that are favorable to Russia.

This option—a nuclear strike—is the most dangerous for Putin and would not fit the pattern of Russian military behavior. Our intelligence leaders say they do not see any Russian preparations for such an attack. Nonetheless, Putin has threatened it. It may be pure bluster, or he may miscalculate again; consequently, the possibility of Russian employment of nuclear weapons cannot be entirely dismissed.

Zelenskiy says world ‘needs to prepare’ over Russian nuclear threat

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is warning again that the world “needs to prepare” for the possibility of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ordering the use of nuclear weapons in his country, according to AFP. Speaking with Ukrainian journalists in Kyiv on Saturday, Zelenskiy said We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons. We must prepare for that. [They] can use any weapon, I’m convinced of it.

Zelenskiy said anti-radiation medicine and air raid shelters would be needed. The Ukraine leader had warned on Friday, in an interview that will air on CNN tomorrow morning, that he believes Putin would not hesitate to turn to tactical nuclear weapons if he felt things were going badly: We should think not be afraid, not be afraid, but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine, but for all the world, I think. On Thursday, the CIA director William Burns said that Russia’s poor military performance raised the risk that Putin could deploy a nuclear weapon. He made his remarks in an address at Georgia Tech, reported by The Hill:

Given the potential desperation of Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons. Moscow has said it would use a nuclear weapon on Ukraine in the case of an “existential threat” against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN in a recent interview. Joe Biden, the US president, is “deeply concerned” about an escalation of the conflict to a point where nuclear weapons become possible, Burns said.

The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Dangerous Slide Into Total Societal Conflict

Noble and well-intentioned as they are, Western actions to save Ukraine and stabilize European security have, perhaps unwittingly, done their part to fuel an escalatory spiral with Russia, creating a very tangible risk of locking this conflict into a protracted “total societal war.” Left unchecked, this counterproductive and unintended dynamic should serve as a dire warning for other conflicts that manifest similar society-centric attributes. This societal dynamic is likely to escalate competition into direct conflict, leading to total and open-ended confrontations should overt friction arise. Foremost among them is the U.S.-China rivalry, which is already sliding into a society-centric confrontation, portrayed by China as a direct extension of the infamous century of colonial humiliation.

The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up

In the ten weeks since Russia began its assault on Ukraine, tensions between Russia and Western countries have been greater than at any point since the Cuban missile crisis. U.S. President Joe Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed superpower, of carrying out a “genocide,” called him a “war criminal,” and stated that he “cannot remain in power.” According to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the United States now seeks to “weaken Russia” to the point that it can no longer threaten its neighbors. Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, has called the war in Ukraine “our war.”

Other European leaders have been more cautious in their choice of words but just as clear in their opposition to Russian aggression. “Atrocious. Unbelievable. Shocking,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after visiting the town of Bucha in early April. The conflict has put EU members on military high alert and dramatically underlined the dangers of European energy dependence on Russia. Complacency about Putin’s willingness to use force and weaponize trade has vanished, as has reluctance to welcome Ukraine into the European Union. NATO has deployed thousands of new troops near Russia’s borders, and the alliance will likely soon add Finland and Sweden to its ranks.

Russian leaders, meanwhile, have dramatically shifted their framing of the war—from a limited “special operation” to “liberate” parts of eastern Ukraine to an all-out existential struggle against NATO. Putin has accused the United States and others of trying to “destroy Russia from within,” and on multiple occasions, Russian leaders have threatened to deploy nuclear weapons against any country that dares intervene in the conflict.

Taken together, these developments constitute a dangerous new reality. Gone are the days when Russia’s war aims consisted solely of “de-Nazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine. Also gone are the days when U.S. and allied governments limited their involvement to helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Leaders on both sides of the conflict have now crossed a series of lines that cannot easily be uncrossed. The result is a new Cold War between Russia and its opponents—one that promises to be less global than its twentieth-century counterpart but also less stable and predictable….

As the new Cold War heats up, leaders must begin thinking about guardrails—safety measures designed to ensure that this conflict doesn’t escalate into a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. After the nuclear near miss of the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, U.S., European, and Soviet leaders created fail-safe systems—arms control agreements such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and confidence-building measures such as the Open Skies agreements—to ensure that proxy wars around the world didn’t trigger World War III.

Today, however, there is no cyber-equivalent of the INF treaty and no path to negotiate and enforce one. There is also little trust between Russia’s president and Western governments, and it is hard to imagine how (and how long it would take) to build enough confidence to create new rules and institutions. The UN Security Council is broken beyond repair, and with no realistic alternatives in sight, the best leaders can do is continue communicating frankly and respectfully about potential opportunities to limit the fast-growing damage that the confrontation between Russia and the West can inflict on the world. For now, the international community is left with a war that has no agreed-on mechanisms to limit its expansion.

Still, U.S. and European leaders believe that they can prevent the conflict from spiraling out of control. They continue to impose ever-tougher sanctions, send deadly weapons to Kyiv, share real-time intelligence with Ukraine’s military, encourage further NATO expansion, and talk of Ukraine’s European future. They speak as though their refusal to send NATO troops into Ukrainian territory or impose a no-fly zone in its airspace will truly limit the risk of Russian retaliation. In reality, however, Putin already sees all these steps as acts of war. There is value for the United States and its allies in implementing these policies, and Russia may not yet have the capacity to hit back with much force, but the longer the war continues, the harder it will be for each side to keep the fighting from escalating into a broader conflict.

Even if Putin is persuaded to end this war by casting a small land grab in eastern Ukraine as a historic victory for Russia, there can be no return to the relative stability that existed before February 24. The new Cold War will be open ended: Russia will remain indefinitely saddled with allied sanctions and will have few trade ties with Europe that might encourage restraint. A humiliated Putin is likely to test NATO’s resolve. Russia could, for example, strike allied weapons convoys, training centers, and storage depots in Ukraine. It could conduct limited cyberattacks against U.S. and European civilian infrastructure. It could escalate its disinformation campaigns to subvert upcoming elections in the United States and European countries. It could cut off gas supplies to more European countries and restrict exports of critical commodities. Amid a growing economic crisis, NATO leaders would be under tremendous pressure to respond to these provocations in kind—risking further dangerous escalation.

If Putin loses the Donbas and finds it impossible to declare victory at home, the risks of escalation rise even further. In this scenario, Moscow might consider using chemical weapons to turn the tide or attacking NATO facilities in Poland. U.S. and European leaders could respond by launching direct strikes on Russian assets in Ukraine or enacting a no-fly zone. Washington would step up its sanctions campaign and, in turn, gas would immediately stop flowing to Europe. Both sides would be tempted to conduct destructive cyberattacks on each other’s critical infrastructure. Although still unlikely, the use of nuclear weapons and NATO troop deployments would no longer be unthinkable. Without guardrails, there is no telling where this new logic might lead.

Nuclear Risks Rise as Russia and the West Prepare for Protracted Conflict

There is no indication that the Kremlin, which is convinced its existential interests are at stake in the ongoing conflict, has any intention of backing off in the face of the West’s maximum pressure campaign. To the contrary, all current signs point to further escalation. CIA director William Burns warned on Thursday that if Russia proves unable to reverse its military setbacks in Ukraine through conventional means, Moscow could eventually make the decision to employ low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. As hopes for a diplomatic off-ramp fade, the war in Ukraine is poised to roil the European continent—and further destabilize the international system—with no end in sight.

Exclusive: Zelensky says world should be prepared for possibility Putin could use nuclear weapons

Zelensky told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview from the office of the president in Kyiv on Friday that Putin could turn to either nuclear or chemical weapons because he does not value the lives of the people of Ukraine. “Not only me — all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because it can be not real information, but it can be truth,” Zelensky said, switching into English to emphasize his point. “Chemical weapons, they should do it, they could do it, for them the life of the people, nothing. That’s why,” Zelensky said. “We should think not be afraid, not be afraid but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine but for all the world, I think.”…US officials have warned about the possibility that Putin, if backed into a corner, could turn to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday that the CIA watches “very intently” over the possibility, while emphasizing that the US has not yet seen any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

Zelensky warns ‘we must prepare’ for Russian nuclear attack and urges the world to stock up on anti-radiation medicine and build air raid shelters – as Kremlin exacts flagship revenge by bombarding EIGHT Ukrainian towns

West, Russia mull nuclear steps in a ‘more dangerous’ world

But no one can count on calm minds to prevail in such a moment, and real life seldom goes to plan. World leaders would be angry, affronted, fearful. Miscommunication and confusion could be rife. Hackers could add to the chaos. Demands would be great for tough retaliation — the kind that can be done with nuclear-loaded missiles capable of moving faster than the speed of sound.

When military and civilian officials and experts have war-gamed Russian-U.S. nuclear tensions in the past, the tabletop exercises sometimes end with nuclear missiles arcing across continents and oceans, striking the capitals of Europe and North America, killing millions within hours, said Olga Oliker, program director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group.

Russia bombs Ukrainian city with nuclear-capable artillery amid fears Putin will use tactical nukes to break deadlock

Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry stoked fears of turning the conflict nuclear as they released images of the massive 46.5 ton weapon firing shells towards Kharkiv.

Nuclear capable artillery guns have been spotted besieging a Ukrainian city

Video shows the giant tracked self-propelled Malka gun bombarding the besieged city as Russia continues its grinding campaign in Ukraine. It comes as Russian deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy warned that Putin will use nuclear weapons if “provoked” by Nato. “If Russia is provoked by NATO, if Russia is attacked by NATO, why not? We are a nuclear power,” he said.

The Guardian (3-26)

The Kremlin again raised the spectre of the use of nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine as Russian forces struggled to hold a key city in the south the country. Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who is deputy chairman of the country’s security council, said Moscow could strike against an enemy that only used conventional weapons while Vladimir Putin’s defence minster claimed nuclear “readiness” was a priority.

The comments on Saturday prompted Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an appearance by video link at Qatar’s Doha Forum to warn that Moscow was a direct threat to the world. Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet.

Russia has approximately 6,000 nuclear warheads – the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. In an interview on Saturday, Medvedev said Russia’s nuclear doctrine did not require an enemy state to use such weapons first. He said: “We have a special document on nuclear deterrence. This document clearly indicates the grounds on which the Russian Federation is entitled to use nuclear weapons. There are a few of them, let me remind them to you. Number one is the situation when Russia is struck by a nuclear missile. The second case is any use of other nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies. The third is an attack on a critical infrastructure that will have paralysed our nuclear deterrent forces. And the fourth case is when an act of aggression is committed against Russia and its allies, which jeopardised the existence of the country itself, even without the use of nuclear weapons, that is, with the use of conventional weapons.”

The World’s Most Dangerous Man

The world is now experiencing a new cold war, and like with the last one, avoiding nuclear conflict will be tricky. Indeed, it may be even harder today than it was in the Soviet Union’s heyday, when power was at least shared among leading officials in the Communist Party. Deterrence does not require pristine rationality, but it does require institutional checks and balances that can restrain leaders who become unhinged. And right now, there is no clear, internal obstacle that prevents Putin from using the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

The Danger of Putin’s Paranoia

Putin’s isolation and paranoia don’t just explain why Russia has underperformed on the battlefield; they also suggest that the Russian leader could opt to escalate the conflict rather than end it through a negotiated compromise—even as momentum builds for a settlement. The nearly 70-year-old Russian leader saw the war as an opportunity to reestablish Russian dominance on the global stage. Now that it has done the opposite, he is likely more desperate than ever for a decisive victory. As the United States and its allies attempt to punish and deter Russia, therefore, they must be careful to avoid fueling a pattern of tit-for-tat escalation that in a worst-case scenario could lead to a hot war between the world’s largest nuclear powers.

Putin is likely to make nuclear threats if war drags, US says

President Vladimir Putin can be expected to brandish threats to use nuclear weapons against the West if stiff Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion continues, draining conventional manpower and equipment, according to a new assessment by the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency.

Why has Russia’s Ukraine invasion triggered the nuclear alarm?

“Our imagination appears increasingly concentrated on the representation of a final catastrophe that will extinguish us,” Pope Francis said this week in Rome. “Nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters in New York.

Putin needs an off-ramp

Across the west there is a sense that Vladimir Putin not only must be stopped from colonizing Ukraine but should be punished for his barbarism as well. It is a question of natural justice. But Western leaders also face a second imperative. The frightening reality is that we are closer to nuclear war than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. And in some ways, the risk of the current crisis spiraling out of control is even greater than that faced by John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. Unlike in 1962, a hot war is already raging over territory that one side considers important to its national interest, and the other knows is necessary to its national survival. The war, in other words, has become a zero-sum conflict, even though on no reasonable basis can Putin’s belief in Ukraine as a threat to Russia’s security be seen as valid.


More than that, though, the very fact of Russia’s weakness creates its own set of dangers. First, the West might become overconfident about how far it can push the Russian state. Second, the prospect of defeat in Ukraine raises the chance that Putin will escalate the conflict. The Russian president might calculate that he simply cannot lose, increasing the odds that he will deploy nuclear or biological weapons to change the facts on the ground and expose the West’s apparent reticence to retaliate. The nature of his regime means that not only is his power at stake, but potentially his wealth and even his life. “I think he’s going to follow through, and this is what worries me,” Kofman said, warning that people should not assume Putin will blanch at leveling Kyiv—he has already shown he is willing to do so, first in Grozny, Chechnya, and then in Aleppo, when Russian airpower supported Assad. The longer the Russian invasion continues, the greater the refugee crisis that Europe is likely to face, and the riskier the situation becomes for NATO, which has gone to great lengths to avoid being drawn into direct conflict with Russian troops. This risk is compounded by the unpredictability of Vladimir Putin, who represents not only a permanent, veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council (a position that Moscow regularly uses to its advantage), but a nuclear-armed state. That the Russian president has already threatened to use his nuclear arsenal is just one concern; that he could deploy brutal military tactics similar to those used by Russia in Syria and Chechnya is another.

This is a uniquely perilous moment

But there was also a thinkable version of nuclear war, one that relied on a kind of nuclear weapon that could perhaps deter the Soviets (and, if deterrence failed, smash their invading armies) without triggering a global thermonuclear exchange. The common term for these armaments is tactical nuclear weapons. It’s precisely this kind of weapon that raises unique and profound concerns now, as Russia attacks Ukraine, and as NATO allies consider the limits of their support for Ukrainian resistance. Vladimir Putin is using a threat that NATO used to deter the Soviets to now deter NATO. Even worse, we have reason to believe that Putin may actually deploy such weapons, with the goal of not merely ending but also winning the war. There are many definitions for tactical nuclear weapons, but as a general rule the term refers to low-yield, short-range weapons that are designed for use against military targets, such as enemy airfields or columns of enemy forces. Tactical nukes can be mounted in simple gravity bombs, on rockets, or even in artillery shells…. . Today, Russia is the power that holds a dramatic advantage in tactical nuclear weapons. According to a 2021 Congressional Research Service report, Russia possesses close to 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons. The U.S. stores roughly 100 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. As we gained the conventional advantage, we essentially gave up on our tactical nuclear force. Russia did not. Moreover, there is considerable evidence that use of those tactical nuclear weapons is part of contemporary Russian-military planning. Russia has reportedly adopted a military strategy known as “escalate to de-escalate” or “escalate to terminate.”

The Smaller Bombs That Could Turn Ukraine Into a Nuclear War Zone

“The chances are low but rising,” said Ulrich Kühn, a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The war is not going well for the Russians,” he observed, “and the pressure from the West is increasing.” Mr. Putin might fire a weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops, Dr. Kühn said. In a 2018 study, he laid out a crisis scenario in which Moscow detonated a bomb over a remote part of the North Sea as a way to signal deadlier strikes to come. “It feels horrible to talk about these things,” Dr. Kühn said in an interview. “But we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.” Washington expects more atomic moves from Mr. Putin in the days ahead. Moscow is likely to “increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength” as the war and its consequences weaken Russia, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force general who served as President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, said Moscow had lowered its bar for atomic use after the Cold War when the Russian army fell into disarray. Today, he added, Russia regards nuclear arms as utilitarian rather than unthinkable. “They didn’t care,” Mr. Clapper said of Russian troops’ risking a radiation release earlier this month when they attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor site — the largest not only in Ukraine but in Europe. “They went ahead and fired on it. That’s indicative of the Russian laissez-faire attitude. They don’t make the distinctions that we do on nuclear weapons.”… Russia’s atomic war doctrine came to be known as “escalate to de-escalate” — meaning routed troops would fire a nuclear weapon to stun an aggressor into retreat or submission. Moscow repeatedly practiced the tactic in field exercises. In 1999, for instance, a large drill simulated a NATO attack on Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The exercise had Russian forces in disarray until Moscow fired nuclear arms at Poland and the United States. Dr. Kühn of the University of Hamburg said the defensive training drills of the 1990s had turned toward offense in the 2000s as the Russian army regained some of its former strength.


NATO Intervention in Ukraine Won’t Spark World War III

The most widely discussed reason is the concern that Russia will use nuclear weapons if NATO intervenes militarily. Putin has reasserted Russia’s right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, making this a legitimate concern. However, it is more likely that nuclear deterrence—albeit different to Cold War deterrence—will hold. Russia’s deployment of nuclear weapons, either against Ukraine or against a NATO member state, could incur devastating consequences for Russia.

Putin’s dictatorship will end in disaster, says former Russian minister

Russia’s former foreign minister has dismissed the chances of nuclear war, declaring the prospect an “empty threat” from Vladimir Putin. Andrei Kozyrev, who served under Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, also suggested the Putin era will soon end in “disaster” amid the Ukraine crisis. “Those strategic weapons that he ordered on alert [are] suicidal weapons because if he sends a missile to Europe, Nato or the United States, he gets two back and there is no survival for anyone.”

More on Tactical Nukes

Meet the nuke the U.S. keeps in Europe, just waiting to not be used

Would Putin actually use nukes?


This is a uniquely perilous moment

But would Putin pull the trigger, really?

As Sokov notes, “The efficacy of threatening tailored damage assumes an asymmetry in a conflict’s stakes.” In plain English, this means that while we might want to intervene, the outcome of the conflict simply matters more to Russia than it does to NATO.

The Nuclear 9/11 in our future

there is a nuclear 9/11 in our future:

“Indications and Warning 101” for elevated risk of nuclear attack is a big war in Europe involving the superpowers, happening now.

Vladimir Putin is Russia’s Nuclear Command Authority, a former KGB thug, megalomaniac, and ruthless killer. Credible nuclear threats from Putin (or from China’s Xi or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un) warrant raising the DEFCON level of U.S. nuclear forces to deter surprise attack.

Putin’s nuclear threats are credible because his strategic forces are postured for surprise attack all the time, in a perpetual alert status called “Constant Combat Readiness,” which does not require highly visible force-wide mobilization, which is what DNI Haines is looking for.

Under Constant Combat Readiness, Russia’s silo-based and mobile ICBMs are always over 95% ready to launch in minutes and can be ordered to launch secretly, using highly secure command-control-communications (C3).

More reasons

If Putin Loses

Piercing the Fog of War: What Is Really Happening in Ukraine?

As of this writing, since we believe that Putin still thinks he can achieve his goals on the battlefield, we see any use of nuclear weapons as highly unlikely. If, however, Putin’s only alternative was humiliating defeat, we fear that this could become a live option. As he sent Russian soldiers to invade Ukraine, Putin ordered his nuclear arsenal to “special combat readiness” and threatened “consequences as you have never experienced in your history.” After seven decades in which no nuclear weapon has been used in war, many today assume that a “nuclear taboo” makes any deliberate use of nuclear weapons unthinkable. We suggest they think again.

A person who did not hesitate to bomb one of his nation’s own cities into rubble could certainly contemplate using low-yield nuclear weapons to destroy a Ukrainian city. Exploring that path, he might even take a page from the U.S. playbook in ending World War II. Putin could consider delivering a low-yield nuclear weapon to destroy one of Ukraine’s small cities, call on Zelenskyy to surrender—and threaten that if he did not, invite him to watch what a Ukrainian Nagasaki looks like. As the United States and its partners contemplate the road ahead, we urge them to remember the lesson that President John F. Kennedy offered successors as the main takeaway from the Cuban Missile Crisis. In his words: “Above all, while defending our vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war.”

Will hypersonic missiles enable Russian dominance?


Putin uses deadly hypersonic missiles for first time ever as Ukraine war takes dark turn

What is Kinzhal, advanced hypersonic missile used by Russia?

Russia deployed hypersonic missiles to warn Ukraine and the west that it “has the means to escalate” the conflict further, a defence expert has said.

Russia deploys hypersonic missiles

Dr James Bosbotinis, a specialist in defence and international affairs, told the BBC it is not possible for the Ukrainian army to defend itself against attacks by these missiles. “The speed of the Kinzhal puts it beyond the reach of any Ukrainian air defence system and the launch platforms can launch from ranges beyond the reach of Ukraine.” He said the hypersonic missile was likely launched from southern Russia. Bosbotinis said hitting the “high value target” of an underground military depot “is sending the message to Ukraine that Russia has the means to escalate this conflict further … It’s also a warning to the west that Russia can of course, up the ante in Ukraine and the Kinzhal could also be deployed if the war escalated and drew in external powers.” He said it was “messaging” that Russia could hit targets in other parts of Europe.

The Guardian

Russia says it has has completed testing of its hypersonic Zircon cruise missile and will deploy it before the end of the year on a new frigate of its Northern Fleet.

Reuters report Aleksandr Moiseyev, commander of the Northern Fleet, said the Admiral Golovko frigate would become the first to be armed full-time with the Zircon.

US Hypersonics

The United States Secretly Tested a Hypersonic Weapon in March

Despite some uncertainty about the future of its hypersonic weapons systems, the United States announced this week that it successfully completed a test of a hypersonic system. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Air Force announced on Tuesday that they “recently completed a free flight test of the Lockheed Martin version of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).”

Ukraine war is backdrop in US push for hypersonic weapons

Report to Congress on Hypersonic Weapons

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons—maneuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5—as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s. In recent years, the United States has focused such efforts on developing hypersonic glide vehicles, which are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target, and hypersonic cruise missiles, which are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines during flight



Is the risk of cyberwar high?


The Dangers of Putin’s Paranoia Why Isolation Encourages Escalation

There is also a risk that if Russia feels backed into a corner, it could carry out cyberattacks against targets in the United States and Europe. Just because Moscow has made little use of its cyber-capabilities thus far does not mean it will continue to do so. Faced with near total diplomatic isolation and the possibility of economic collapse, Russia could attempt to use its cyber-arsenal to force Western countries to relax their sanctions. These cyberattacks could take many forms. For instance, Moscow could conduct disruptive attacks against U.S. banks and financial institutions, interrupting financial transactions and sowing uncertainty among U.S. investors. Or it could attack European providers of critical infrastructure, such as electric utilities companies, causing power or energy disruptions in an attempt to divide NATO allies.

If the conflict were to reach this point, Western countries would be entering uncharted waters. U.S. President Joe Biden has said his administration will not launch cyber-operations against Russia unless Moscow targets U.S. companies or critical infrastructure. But in late February, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg indicated that a major cyberattack against a NATO country could trigger Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty, which obligates all members to consider an attack against one as an attack against all of them. Although there is some question as to what invoking Article 5 would entail in the cyber-realm—it could simply require NATO countries to deploy defensive cybersecurity teams to restore and clean up infected networks—there is a risk that cyber-retaliation could lead to escalation in the physical realm.

Are U.S. Cyberwarriors Fighting Russia in Ukraine?

While it is certainly true that U.S. soldiers are not fighting alongside Ukrainians in the country’s warzone, the same cannot be truly said about U.S. cyberwarriors.

White House warns Russia prepping possible cyberattacks against US

Yes but small attacks

An isolated Russia will pose new cyber threats

Fears of “Cyber Pearl Harbor” or “Cyber 9/11” events in which digital actions produce devastating societal disruption are not just unrealistic; they are irresponsible. While it’s true that Russia’s cyber capabilities are immense and include assets prepositioned in Western networks, there is little strategic utility to be found in such an attack. Absent the outbreak of conventional conflict between NATO members and the Russian Federation, the truth is that cyber spectacles would be walked back in days or weeks at most. Victory in the “cyberwar” predicted by some will always be temporary and so generally not worth the effort.

What’s more likely in the near- to medium-term is that Russia will continue to seek out lateral means of disruption to address its new, more isolated state. Above the baseline, sanctions are likely to push Russia to increasingly use cyber to ease economic tensions and retaliate against specific Western political factions without fearing escalation. Just as sanctions have pushed North Korea towards cyber crime as a method of bypassing economic hurt, Russia will likely feel freer to utilize its substantial cyber capabilities in months to come. As such, businesses and societal institutions in Europe and the United States would be foolish if they did not expect, as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has already warned, Russian digital antagonism to find its way into networks closer to home.


The Cyber Delusion: Digital Threats are Manageable, Not Existential 

This contemporary approach to cyberthreats resembles the aftermath of 9/11, when almost all experts believed an even larger terrorist attack would soon take place. Then, as now, the threat is overblown. Although occasionally dramatic, cyberattacks have turned out to be a comparatively minor and manageable threat. Far too much discussion around the issue focuses on worst-case scenarios, fails to contextualize the problem, and neglects to weigh the costs of cyberattacks against the enormous value of the Internet and artificial intelligence. Most commentary, moreover, does not fully appreciate the ability of the business sector—by far the most tempting of targets for malevolent hackers—to develop effective countermeasures.

Will the war spread?



The most likely result is a stalemate, and the West is the biggest loser if that scenario plays out as it continues to cover the costs for Ukraine’s military operations, absorb the flow of refugees and meet their humanitarian needs, and see the economic impacts (including a possible recession in Europe) of its efforts to maintain pressure on the Russian government and elites. The more protracted this war becomes, as Sir Lawrence Freedman wisely counsels, the greater the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin escalates in an insidious manner or that some miscalculation results in NATO becoming a direct belligerent.

Can America and NATO Avoid a Broader War Over Ukraine?

The Kremlin (not just Putin) is unlikely to accept a defeat in the war with Ukraine. The longer the war goes on, the greater Moscow’s incentive to go after the supply lines bringing U.S./NATO military assistance to Ukraine. That would mean a heightened chance of a direct military clash between the U.S./NATO and Russia. Also, the longer the war goes on, the more political pressure Biden will face to step up support Ukraine. Not just with more weapons, but Kyiv will continue pressing the issue of a no-fly zone, and should the war turn against Ukraine, for direct U.S./NATO military intervention.

The War in Ukraine Is Just Beginning

One concern is it could yet extend to other post-Soviet countries such as Moldova and Georgia, both of which, like Ukraine, have Russian-backed breakaway regions within their respective territories. The other, perhaps greater, risk is that Russian aggression could spread even farther afield, to the Baltics, which would not only draw NATO into a potential conflict, but also fundamentally threaten the post–Cold War order. “This story is as big [as], if not bigger, than 9/11 and the fall of the Soviet Union,” Katerji said, comments that have partially echoed those made by Britain’s foreign secretary.

What If Russia Wins? A Kremlin-Controlled Ukraine Would Transform Europe

A bitter consequence of a wider war in Ukraine is that Russia and the United States would now encounter each other as enemies in Europe. Yet they will be enemies who cannot afford to take hostilities beyond a certain threshold. However far apart their worldviews, however ideologically opposed, the world’s two most significant nuclear powers will have to keep their outrage in check. This will amount to a fantastically tricky juggling act: a state of economic warfare and geopolitical struggle across the European continent, yet a state of affairs that does not allow escalation to tip into outright war. At the same time, U.S.-Russian confrontation can in the worst case extend to proxy wars in the Middle East or Africa if the United States decides to reestablish its presence after the catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal.

Navy Pilots Flying Dozens of Daily Russian Deterrence Missions from USS Harry S. Truman

On Thursday, USNI News spoke with the pilots flying the patrols on NATO’s eastern front about how Truman and its air wing fit in with the larger alliance mission as the war rages in Ukraine. The enhanced air policing is one form of deterrence the United States is doing in hopes of dissuading Russian President Vladimir Putin from further aggression, Del Toro, who was embarked on the ship Thursday, said. As part of the Ukrainian invasion, the Russian Navy has massed ships in the Eastern Mediterranean centered on its sole foreign naval base in Tartus, Syria. Those forces include two Slava-class guided-missile cruisers – RTS Marshal Ustinov (055) and RFS Varyag (011) – designed to take on U.S. and NATO aircraft carriers. The Truman CSG is joined in the Mediterranean by other ships from NATO, including FS Charles De Gaulle (R 91) and the Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550). But Russian ships and submarines are also in the area, Del Toro said. Deterring those ships operating in the Eastern Mediterranean are a major part of the Truman CSG’s mission as well as the policing operation over NATO countries in Europe.

Boris Johnson warns of “new age of intimidation” if Russian invasion successful

A “new age of intimidation” stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea looms if Vladimir Putin succeeds in his invasion of Ukraine, Boris Johnson has warned.

Johnson said the world was at a “turning point”. “The end of freedom in Ukraine will mean the extinction of any hope of freedom in Georgia and then Moldova. It will mean the beginning of a new age of intimidation across the whole of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” he said. “If Putin succeeding crushing Ukraine, it will be the green light for autocrats everywhere in the Middle East, in the Far East. This is a turning point for the world. It’s a moment of choice. It’s a choice between freedom and oppression.”

He warned other leaders against adopting a stance of “realpolitik” towards Putin. “I know there are some others around the world who say it’s better to make accommodation with tyranny. I believe they are profoundly wrong,” Johnson said. To try to normalise relations with Putin after this, as the west had done in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, would be to make exactly the same mistake again, he added.


Russia threatens to strike the West if Ukraine hits it with US rockets

A close ally of Vladimir Putin has warned that the Kremlin could target western cities if Ukraine uses rockets supplied by the US to carry out strikes on Russia.

President Joe Biden announced this week that his administration was sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, backtracking on an earlier statement that the US would not be giving the war-torn country advanced weaponry.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former prime minister under Putin and current chairman of the national security council, warned there would be consequences if these were used on Russian soil.

He told Al Jazeera: ‘If, God forbid, these weapons are used against Russian territory then our armed forces will have no other choice but to strike decision-making centres.


Piercing the Fog of War: What Is Really Happening in Ukraine?

NATO-Russia war remains unlikely. The actions of both the U.S.-led NATO and Russia in the first month of war show clearly that both sides recognize the risks of direct conflict and are making significant efforts to avoid it. NATO countries are sending Ukraine unprecedented numbers of surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, drones, and other war materiel. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that “any cargo moving into the Ukrainian territory which we would believe is carrying weapons would be fair game,” and Russia’s attack on the Yavoriv military facility 15 miles from the Polish border, which had been receiving and storing arms from NATO countries, underlined the point. Wary of such warnings, the United States and Poland have not sent Poland’s MiG-29s to Ukraine.

NATO’s escalation ladder of potential actions includes: Arming Ukrainian forces with nonlethal materiel, like armor or strategic intelligence; arming Ukrainian forces with lethal materiel, like missiles or tactical targeting intelligence; a small, random incident—perhaps lethal to some Russian forces—that can be contained and isolated; a NATO-enforced No-Fly Zone for limited humanitarian corridors; a NATO-enforced No-Fly Zone over substantial Ukrainian territory; use of NATO airfields for Ukrainian pilots and aircraft attacking Russian forces.

As Zelenskyy pressures NATO to climb this ladder and provide more support, there remain some uncertainties about where Putin will draw the line. Putin certainly does not want war with NATO or the United States. He has exercised great care not to cross the border of NATO countries for fear of such a war. Still, he has attempted to deter Europeans by threatening that their strangling economic measures could force him to resort to a military response. We judge that Putin will not conduct operations against NATO allies in the Baltics in the short or medium terms. After the slow slog in Ukraine, so many Russian casualties, and such a united Western response, we think that Putin is unlikely to pursue ambitions beyond Ukraine in the near future.

Will Russia use chemical and biological weapons?

Russia may have used chemical weapons

Worries grow over use of chemical weapons by Russia: Five things to know


Preparing for the Unthinkable in the Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not gone as the Kremlin imagined, with its forces bogged down around key cities and the Ukrainian army providing stiff resistance. As its troops grow demoralized and its supplies are exhausted, Russia may turn to more drastic measures to win. In Washington, U.S. national security officials are already meeting and planning for a growing possibility that was once unthinkable: that Russia might use biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Just a few weeks ago, the notion that Russia might use such weapons in its campaign in Ukraine would have seemed unduly alarmist. That is no longer the case. No doubt following intelligence reports, the White House has quietly assembled a team of national security officials to sketch out responses to any Russian biological or chemical attack. Putin has already placed the nuclear option on the table by setting his nuclear weapons forces on alert. Such brinkmanship makes the use of chemical and biological agents more plausible. Putin’s claim that Ukraine itself intends to bring these internationally banned weapons of mass destruction into the conflict seems like one of his classic acts of projection, suggesting that as the war drags on Russia could initiate false flag operations to do just that.

Putin seemingly has no compunction about using such agents against his political foes: he ordered the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, a defector and Putin critic, with radioactive polonium in 2006; poisoned another defector, Sergei Skripal, in 2018; and targeted the opposition leader Alexei Navalny with Novichok nerve agent in 2020. Attacking a civilian population with these weapons would represent a tactical change in scale but not in kind. After all, Russia accepted and at least tacitly supported Assad’s chemical attacks on his own people.

‘Clear sign’ Putin is considering using biological and chemical weapons, Biden says

Russian accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons are false and illustrate that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering using them himself in his war against Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said on Monday, without citing evidence. Reuters reports Biden told at a Business Roundtable event on Monday: [Putin’s] back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, simply not true. They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those.” The remarks echoed prior comments by officials in Washington and allied countries, who have accused Russia of spreading an unproven claim that Ukraine had a biological weapons program as a possible prelude to potentially launching its own biological or chemical attacks.

How canNATO/the US deter Russia’s use of chemical weapons

NATO official says alliance would be forced to take action if Russia uses chemical, nuclear weapons

NATO Deputy-General Secretary Mircea Geoana said in an interview with The Associated Press that the group would respond if Russia used chemical or nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, but also it’s a nuclear alliance,” said Geoana, who is also the former Romanian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States. “If they will be using chemical weapons or other kinds of higher-end systems against Ukraine, this will be changing fundamentally the nature of the war that Mr. Putin has waged against Ukraine.”

“I can guarantee that NATO is ready to respond proportionately,” Geoana added.

Deter Russia’s Use of Chemical Weapons in Ukraine

At the same time, Putin must be made to understand that “there’ll be severe consequences” if it uses chemical weapons in Ukraine, as Biden warned on Monday. While Biden probably will not order direct military retaliation, Washington and its allies should warn that Putin’s use of any weapon of mass destruction would force them to consider more aggressive military support for Ukraine, such as reviving plans to provide Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine or offering cruise missiles.

NATO steps up defenses over concerns Russia may use chemical attacks

NATO is activating nuclear, biological and chemical defenses in response to concerns that Russia may be preparing a chemical attack on Ukraine, a potential action that the alliance’s top official said Thursday could put neighboring nations at risk. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, after a meeting of allied heads of state, said the alliance also agreed to send Ukraine gear to protect its people from chemical attacks. The equipment on the way could include personal protective gear, medical supplies, chemical agent detectors and training for decontamination, Stoltenberg said.

Is China backing Russia?


China is complicit in Russia’s war

At the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Putin and Xi announced a “no limits” partnership to deepen their cooperation — likely a veiled reference to the impending attack on Ukraine. More damning, the New York Times reports, China told Russia to refrain from invading until after the Olympics, which is exactly what happened.

As war approached, China turned a blind eye to Moscow’s aggression, refusing to acknowledge it as an invasion. Even though Putin’s troops are now clearly committing war crimes in Ukraine, Beijing refuses to condemn them.

This is yet another display of how little the CCP’s word is worth. China’s foreign minister paid lip service to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” at the Munich Security Conference right before the invasion. For decades, Beijing has claimed it espouses “non-interference” in other countries’ “internal affairs.” And the CCP consistently denies the validity of what it considers “separatist” movements in Taiwan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. By supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in “defense” of Russian-speaking separatists, Beijing has abandoned its supposed principles in favor of ruthless opportunism.

The world now sees that the CCP’s claimed impartiality and commitment to sovereignty are a shameless, self-serving charade. That means every nation partnering with Beijing on infrastructure projects, technical investment and deployment, or advanced research should question the reliability and security of those relationships. It also means the United States and its European allies must resist perceiving China as a potential “tamer” of Putin, as the CCP might have us do. For many years, the free world has tried, in vain, to persuade Beijing to “tame” North Korea — this time will be no different.

Should NATO become involved in the Ukraine?


NATO Intervention in Ukraine Won’t Spark World War III

However, Russia’s indiscriminate attacks against Ukrainian civilians—including bombing hospitals and schools as well as the use of horrific weapons, such as cluster bombs and white phosphorus—should drive the West to reevaluate its war engagement policy and take a more active role by implementing a no-fly zone or securing evacuation corridors—perhaps even actively fighting Russian forces…The West must therefore decide how long it will refrain from engagement and allow Russia to sow devastation in pursuing expansionist ambitions for fear of casualties or the bomb.


Why America should not deepen its involvement in the Ukraine

But there is a limit to how far we should go. Even as our hearts go out to the brave Ukrainian people, the Biden administration is right to resist calls to deepen American military involvement in Ukraine, because the consequences of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia could be unimaginably dire. If Mr. Biden bows to public pressure and, for instance, attempts to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, we could be stepping on the path to nuclear war. As the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said this week, “The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.”

A product of the Cold War, Mr. Biden well understands that direct U.S.-Russian conflict could escalate to nuclear war. The Soviet Union may have disappeared 30 years ago, but its nuclear weapons did not, and neither did ours. If they are used, the consequences would be horrific — instant death for people in the immediate blast area followed by environmental destruction, possible famine and more death as the radiation spread. It could mean the end of civilization as we know it.

The Perils of Emotional Arguments for Intervention in the Ukraine

The consistent attempt on the part of Ukraine to drag NATO into a shooting war with Russia was understandable as an appeal to emotions and a way to manipulate the goodness of Westerners genuinely enraged by Russian savagery. But proponents of further Western military support to Ukraine do not grapple with the risks of escalating the conflict. The fear is not that NATO could lose a conventional war, but that it would push Russia into a corner from which a nuclear response would be Moscow’s only choice.

Only NATO intervention can save Putin

In any case, even if Putin is too deluded to think about such risks, the rest of us must consider the dangers of ordering the largest military coalition in human history into battle against a disorganized and battered army led by incompetent officers and commanded by an isolated and delusional president. Putting so many military assets in play, with combat breaking out all over Europe, could spark a catastrophe that neither we nor Putin intended. The danger is not that the Russian war on Ukraine becomes a replay of 1939, in which a coalition must stop a mad dictator at all costs, but that a Russia-NATO war becomes a nuclear version of 1914, in which all the combatants would find themselves moving from a crisis none of them expected into a cataclysm none of them wanted.

This is a uniquely perilous moment

If he deploys tactical nuclear weapons, Putin would be calling our bluff. Given our limited tactical nuclear arsenal, would we escalate to the use of strategic weapons in response? Would we risk Washington and New York to dislodge Putin from Ukraine? Given Putin’s expansive tactical nuclear arsenal—and given the very live debate over his willingness to deploy that arsenal to block NATO intervention and (theoretically) force an end to the war before a truly apocalyptic escalation—the Biden administration’s strategic choices since the invasion make a great deal of sense.

How to Stop a Nuclear War

But if that makes our situation more dangerous, it also should give us confidence that we don’t need to take wild nuclear risks to defeat Putin in the long run. The voices arguing for escalating now because we’ll have to fight him sooner or later need to recognize that containment, proxy wars and careful line-drawing defeated a Soviet adversary whose armies threatened to sweep across West Germany and France, whereas now we’re facing a Russian army that’s bogged down outside Kyiv. We were extremely careful about direct escalation with the Soviets even when they invaded Hungary or Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan, and the result was a Cold War victory without a nuclear war. To escalate now against a weaker adversary, one less likely to ultimately defeat us and more likely to engage in atomic recklessness if cornered, would be a grave and existential folly.

Why has Russia’s Ukraine invasion triggered the nuclear alarm?

Such a scenario is most likely if an accidental battlefield escalation brings in NATO. In that situation one of the parties, most likely Russia, could cross the nuclear red line. This could include an incident along the Ukrainian-Polish border or if there was a no-fly-zone enforced by NATO, he said. avel Podvig, a senior researcher at the Geneva-based UN Institute for Disarmament Research said the chance that Russia will use nuclear weapons is very low as long as the conflict is confined to its forces and Ukraine. “It is very difficult to imagine that Russia would just start using nuclear weapons…they have no “military utility” in this situation, Podvig explained. Moscow’s military doctrine itself limits the use of nuclear weapons to cases of aggression against Russia and there is no war on Russian territory, Podvig said. He did, however note, that the Kremlin could have a broad interpretation of what such aggression might constitute. The chances for a nuclear strike increase, “if there is a direct conflict that would involve North Atlantic Treaty Organization and or the United States,” Podvig said.

Concern rising that Putin could use nuclear weapons

At the hearing, CIA director William Burns said the Russian military doctrine contemplates the use of smaller tactical nuclear weapons. “You know, Russian doctrine holds that you escalate to de-escalate, and so I think the risk would rise, according to the doctrine,” Burns said.

Should Sweden and/or Finland Join NATO?


Finland To Decide on NATO Membership Within Weeks (March 17)

Finland ‘highly likely’ to join Nato

Finland is “highly likely” to join Nato after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, its Europe minister has said. Tytti Tuppurainen, 46, said the Finnish people “have already made up their mind” to join the international military alliance. “At this point I can say that it is highly likely, but the decision is not yet made,” Ms Tuppurainen said.

Russia pushes Finland, Sweden into NATO’s arms

Finland and Sweden appear to be edging closer to joining NATO, a move that leaders and experts see as the best way to confront Russia as it escalates its rhetoric on nuclear weapons.

The conflict in Ukraine has forced the two Nordic nations to reconsider their absence from the alliance forged after World War II, which commits members to defending one another if attacked.

“Mr. Putin is proving NATO relevant and necessary,” said Sean Monaghan, a visiting fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “If NATO didn’t exist, you’d have to invent it.”

What are Sweden and Finland Thinking?

Balance-of-threat theory explains why Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait in 1990 led to the creation of a balancing coalition whose combined capabilities dwarfed Iraq’s economic foundation and third-rate military. It also explains why Europe has responded so vigorously to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has taken only modest steps to respond to the rising power of faraway China. China is much stronger than Russia and likely to be a greater long-term challenge, but it is on the other side of Eurasia and lacks military capabilities that can plausibly threaten Europe itself..

In the case of Sweden and Finland, the tipping point was clearly an altered view of Russian intentions. As Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters over the weekend, Sweden decided to apply to join NATO because it has changed its views on Russia’s willingness “to use violence” and “to take enormous risks.” Notice that Russia’s motivations for invading Ukraine aren’t the central issue for the Swedes—it doesn’t matter if Russian President Vladimir Putin is a dyed-in-the-wool expansionist or driven largely by a profound sense of insecurity. What matters is that he chose to go to war.

What Finland will bring to NATO – and how it might change the alliance


Debating Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO

Chris, Melanie, and Zack consider Finland and Sweden’s applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Is a larger NATO necessarily a more effective alliance? And what are the practical implications of defending these two countries from an apparently revanchist Russia? What does this mean for the future of European strategic autonomy? And does this signal a hardening of the old Cold War lines of West versus East, or, in this case, all of Europe versus Russia?


Finland and Sweden deserve to be in NATO now 

Both countries have serious defense industrial capabilities. Besides SAAB for aircraft manufacture, Bofors is a leading producer of artillery and smart artillery shells. Patria Industries in Finland produces armored wheeled vehicles, mortars, and life-cycle maintenance for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. NAMMO produces ammunition (including for the U.S. Marine Corps) as well as rocket propulsion systems for cruise missiles.

Finally, as the United States and the West think about strategic competition with China, having Nokia and Ericsson, two of the world’s most important providers of telephone network systems, inside the NATO tent offers advantages for preventing Huawei and ZTE from totally dominating global 5G infrastructure.


Commentary: Finland and Sweden joining NATO is a greater security dilemma than solution

NATO expansion into Scandinavia goes against current Western strategy against Russia. If harsh sanctions succeed, Vladimir Putin may see this as an existential threat and turn to his often-threatened nuclear capability, say two international relations experts.

Russia Urged Sweden, Finland to Avoid NATO Membership For “Peace And Stability”

Russia threatens to move nukes to Baltic region if Finland, Sweden join NATO

BRUSSELS — Russia warned Finland and Sweden on Thursday that if they join NATO, Moscow will reinforce the Baltic Sea region, including with nuclear weapons. The threat came a day after Finnish officials suggested that their country could request to join the 30-member military alliance within weeks and as Sweden mulled making a similar move.

Time for a Strategic Pause for NATO Expansion

In addition to taking NATO membership off the table for Ukraine, the West could put NATO membership for Sweden and Finland on the negotiating table with Russia. A promise not to expand NATO at all would be fairer to Ukraine and could sweeten the pot for Russia to dial back its territorial ambitions. Such a proposal would need to be part of a broader international effort to stop the fighting, address Russia’s legitimate security concerns, and prevent more people from dying inside Ukraine and around the world. After all, the war’s impacts are beginning to be felt in the form of worldwide food shortages that could end up killing far more people than the fighting does.

Should the Ukraine cede territory to Russia to end the war?


Kissinger says Ukraine must give up land to Russia, warns West not to seek to humiliate Putin with defeat

Henry Kissinger said Ukraine must concede territory to Russia to end the war and warned the West that a humiliating defeat for Russia could result in wider destabilization.

The statesman, now 98, made the comments in a conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Kissinger was the architect of the détente with China under the Nixon administration, and he’s one of the world’s foremost advocates of realpolitik, in which nations put morals and principles aside to achieve their aims.

“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante,” Kissinger said. “Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he added.


How the West Can Win the Peace in Ukraine

Some voices, including the Italians, French, and Henry Kissinger are calling for an immediate ceasefire and Ukrainian concessions. In practice, that would not end well for the West. It would give the Russians time to regroup and flex their economic muscle (e.g., leverage via energy supplies) to pressure the West to roll back some of the sanctions and stop arms shipments to Ukraine.

We need the foundation for a real peace. A rush to press for ending the fighting without safeguarding Ukrainian vital interests—or allowing Russia to come out of it without being held accountable for its crimes and enriched with new territory—will only increase the threat of future Russian aggress

We should support Ukraine, not pressure it to make concessions

Rewarding aggressors — and punishing those who resist them — creates not stability but more aggression.

Ukraine tried precisely what Kissinger is proposing in 2014, agreeing to a ceasefire, with Russia controlling large portions of its territory in Crimea and the Donbas. The result was extensive human rights violations against Ukrainians in the occupied territories, on-going shelling and ground assaults against unoccupied Ukrainian territory, and ultimately the current invasion.

After 102 Days of War, Is Russia Looking Beyond Ukraine’s Donbass?

It was speculated in prior months that Russia’s next major war aim will be to keep advancing westward toward the city of Dnipro as part of a broader attempt to cut Ukrainian forces off along the lower sections of the Dnieper River. However, a growing chorus of Russian politicians, Kremlin insiders, and military experts have recently suggested that the Russian military will instead mount a massive southern offensive in the direction of Odessa. The southwestern port hub, explained State Duma member Konstantin Zatulin, is a bigger strategic prize for Russia than even the capital city of Kyiv. The loss of Odessa would complete Ukraine’s transformation into a landlocked, economically crippled rump state. Control over Ukraine’s Black Sea coast would not only multiply Moscow’s influence over key maritime shipping routes but provide Russia’s military with a forward staging post from which to threaten NATO’s southeastern flank. The ability to take and hold Odessa will be a first step in the ambitious plan, floated by Russia’s top military brass in April, to establish a land-sea corridor to Moldova’s breakaway pro-Russian enclave of Transnistria.

But the Russian military’s road to Odessa runs through the fortified Ukrainian-held city of Mykolaiv, which would take considerable time and resources to capture. Even with ongoing fire support from Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the slog of Russian ground forces to Odessa from the Kherson-Mykolaiv axis will be long and costly. Regardless of its outcome, the battle for the city itself could drag on for many more months—it would pose one of the war’s biggest military bloodbaths and provoke a humanitarian disaster potentially dwarfing the tragedy that unfolded over the course of three torturous months in Mariupol.

Memo to Henry Kissinger: Appeasing Putin means enabling genocide

As any student of WWII will tell you, attempting to appease genocidal tyrants with territorial concessions is not only morally repugnant but also strategically nonsensical. The only response such figures understand is overwhelming force. The only meaningful objective is their total defeat.

Supporters of appeasement must also recognize that a genocidal war of aggression cannot be accommodated within the existing framework of the international order. Indeed, war crimes on this scale are antithetical to any kind of order whatsoever. Failure to defeat those responsible for such crimes merely accelerates the descent of world politics into the jungle and sets a dreadful geopolitical precedent for the decades to come.

‘Kissinger still lives in the 20th century’: Ukraine hits back at suggestion it should cede land to Russia

A Ukrainian MP has given what he called a “polite” reply to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s suggestion that Ukraine should be prepared to cede some territory to Moscow in order to reach a peace deal. “I think Mr. Kissinger still lives in the 20th century, and we are in the 21st century and we are not going to give up any inch of our territory,” Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, told CNBC on Wednesday. “That would be the worst signal to Putin,” he added. “We should stop Putin now and not let him go further,” Goncharenko said, adding that he believes the best way to establish peace is to bring Ukraine inside the European Union as quickly as possible.

Kissinger is wrong: We can’t give Putin a win in Ukraine

Kissinger has it wrong. If Ukraine surrendered territory to Russia, it would likely invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to move against other countries once under control of the Soviet Union. Would he be OK with ceding those territories to Moscow to avoid global “destabilization” and a wider conflict?

Negotiating Peace in Ukraine Is Not About What America Wants

Concessions should only be offered if they look likely to end the conflict with an acceptable result. Therefore, Zelenskyy is completely right in stating again and again that his aim is restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea.

Only such a position ensures that negotiations start from an equitable position. Negotiations may end with territorial concessions from Ukraine, but if so, they will be decided on the basis of what Ukrainians feel and have agreed to. This is the core of negotiations and should not be given to Russia a priori since Russia must pay for whatever concessions Ukraine puts on the table. If not, only one side of the table negotiates.

Negotiations to resolve conflicts more or less comparable to what we have seen in Ukraine do not commence before one of two conditions is present: either one of the parties acknowledges defeat or both are too exhausted and find that the cost of continuing the war outweighs whatever unpalatable concessions must be made.

Neither of these conditions looks present right now, meaning that the war will probably go on for some time. The United States and Europe must see to it that Ukraine continues to be able to stand up against the Russian aggression. Otherwise, an outcome will be shaped by a lopsided negotiation where Russia occupies the driver’s seat.

Should NATO implement a no fly zone?


Open letter calling for a no fly zone


A NATO ‘No-Fly Zone’ Over Ukraine Means an Air War with Russia

Taking over the aerial fight would mean war with a major rival. Lowballing cost and risk is an especially egregious sin when making and executing a strategy. Yet the phrase no-fly zone connotes all of this.

This is a Uniquely perilous moment

Imagine if Russia were to use low-yield nuclear weapons to destroy key air bases throughout Europe or attack an aircraft-carrier task force. How could NATO expect to operate a no-fly zone if its principal air bases are a smoldering ruin or one or more aircraft carriers is at the bottom of the Atlantic? Or imagine if Russia were to use low-yield nuclear weapons to destroy specific army bases, catastrophically damaging NATO’s ground-based striking power.

A Complete Guide to Why a No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine Won’t Work

The potential for expanding this conflict beyond the confines of Ukraine, for escalating this war into something that could engulf a much larger swath of the European continent or even result in nuclear war is just too high to risk sending hundreds of NATO aircraft into this fight, especially with the understanding that all this risk would not lead to an end to this conflict A no-fly zone over Ukraine may prevent a relatively small number of airstrikes from taking place inside Ukraine’s airspace, but that’s simply not enough to justify rolling the dice when one potential outcome is the end of all life as we know it.

Inherently Escalatory: The No-Fly Zone in the Ukraine

At the end of the day, there is no credible way to assert that the no-fly zone is an option that is only potentially escalatory or that it would be effective in protecting Ukrainian civilians from attacks. As I pointed out during a recent episode of the Modern War Institute podcast, the establishment of a no-fly zone has only two possible outcomes. Either NATO fires the first shot at a Russian target in an expanded European war, or the Russians fire the first shot at a NATO target in an expanded European war. All other expectations are unrealistic, created by a misunderstanding of the available airpower options.

How a No Fly zone could lead to a nuclear war

Here are three ways a U.S. intervention that began with a no-fly zone might end with a nuclear exchange between Russia and America.

  1. Nuclear war after escalation by Russia.

Consider this scenario.

After the no-fly zone is declared, U.S. fighter jets shoot down Russian planes over Ukraine. Some of the Russian jets crash on their side of the border. Claiming a violation of their airspace, they shoot missiles at the NATO air bases in Poland in response.

The U.S. fears the air attack is a precursor to a Russian invasion and masses troops near Poland’s eastern border. Russia also moves troops toward the border.

In the fog of war, one side’s troop movements are misunderstood as imminent invasion and fighting breaks out. NATO forces surge forward, and Russia’s weakened troops cannot stop them.

Considering defeat unacceptable, Russia resorts to battlefield nukes. The U.S. responds in kind. A nuclear war is underway.

  1. Nuclear war after U.S. planes get shot down.

Magical thinking — or too much movie watching — has led Americans to believe that whatever happens, we’ll prevail in the final reel.

In real life, as we saw from Vietnam to Afghanistan, warfare is uncertain. There’s no guarantee our planes won’t be the ones shot down. Political pressure to raise the ante could then become irresistible, perhaps by firing U.S. missiles at Russian air bases.

Russia could respond with a “limited” incursion into Poland to stop the missile launches. Fearing the Russians won’t stop before they reach Berlin, American military leaders might consider using battlefield nukes.

Might Putin not decide that if attacks on Mother Russia itself seemed inevitable, better to launch the first nuclear strike against America? Could Washington make the same decision about Russia?

  1. Nuclear war by accident.

The history of the Cold War is replete with “nuclear close calls” — incidents that nearly resulted in nuclear war. In November 1979, for example, computer errors led to a false report that the Soviet Union had launched 250 nuclear missiles at the United States. A response had to be made imminently.

These errors did not end in nuclear war in part because there was no active conflict between the U.S. and Russia at the time. But what if a similar mistake happens while U.S. and Russian pilots are battling it out over Ukraine?

The rest could be history… or the end of history.

The stakes are too high to ignore the dangers. The United States and our European allies are supplying Ukraine with battlefield weapons and with important military intelligence to aid their resistance to Russian aggression. We’ve also isolated Russia economically.

Should NATO implement a peacekeeping mission in the Ukraine?


A Proposed NATO Peacekeeping Mission to Ukraine Could Deepen the Conflict

As Russia continues to prosecute its war of aggression against Ukraine, shelling power plants, hospitals, and military targets with seemingly indiscriminate artillery rounds, Poland has called for an armed peacekeeping mission to Ukraine to stop the bloodshed. The proposal, bound to dominate the discussion at Thursday’s emergency NATO summit, is no doubt born of a noble desire to help a neighbor in need. But no matter how noble the intent, no humanitarian outcome can warrant the risks of sending a nuclear-backed NATO contingent into the line of Russian fire.

Should Putin be overthrown?

Biden says Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ in sweeping speech on Russian invasion of Ukraine


Can America and NATO Avoid a Broader War Over Ukraine?

If the goal of U.S. policy indeed, is to crash the Russian economy—and remove Putin from power—this is a risky gambit. Cornered nations lash out. In July 1941, Washington imposed an oil embargo on Japan, cutting off its main source of oil. With its oil supplies—its economic lifeblood—dwindling, Tokyo adopted a two-pronged strategy of seizing Indonesia’s oil fields, and attacking Pearl Harbor to ensure the U.S. navy would be unable to stop Japan’s drive into Southeast Asia. In the Biden administration, there is some awareness of the “Cornered Putin Problem” but, when asked if this meant the U.S. would ease off sanctions, a senior official said “Quite the contrary.”

If regime change is Washington’s actual—if unstated—aim (or hope), it needs to do a re-think. This war is not just about “he” but about “they”—the Russian foreign policy elite. International politics is a complex business. In assessing a state’s grand strategy, there are multiple drivers. For sure leadership (and agency) matter. But there are historical, cultural, and structural forces that also matter. And often more. Russia without Putin would still be Russia, and it would still be concerned—as it has been for centuries—with safeguarding its security by establishing a sphere of influence on its borders. With or without Putin the Kremlin would still be concerned with upholding Russia’s status and prestige. It is difficult to imagine any Russian leader who would accept Ukraine as a member of NATO, or be content with a European security architecture based on a U.S.-led Cold War security alliance.

No hesitation’ Defector issues nuclear warning as Putin’s hand lingers over red button

Mr Konanykin said that the use of nuclear weapons will not be an “easy decision for Putin”. However, he added: “If the only other scenario for Putin is losing power, freedom and possibly his life he will absolutely, with no hesitation use nuclear weapons on Ukraine.”

Putin’s Nuclear Threats Are a Wake-Up Call for the World

He threatened any country that interfered in his invasion of Ukraine with “consequences greater than any you have faced in history.” He placed his nuclear forces on high alert and held exercises with them. And then he proclaimed that Western sanctions amounted to a “declaration of war” against Russia. The fate of humanity suddenly seems to be in the unsteady hands of an isolated, frustrated, and potentially unhinged Vladimir Putin. And people are understandably panicked about that prospect. “The fact that there’s a very short path from, say, Putin feeling humiliated to the end of life as we know it,” the sociologist Kieran Healy wrote, “is literally insane.”…

Putin needs an off-ramp

But what is potentially even more frightening than misplaced wishful thinking is the third element: truth. It is possible that Putin’s regime really is as weak as people suggest. Some longtime Russia analysts not prone to hyperbole believe it might collapse as a result of this crisis. “For the first time in 20 years looking at this regime, I’m really questioning [it],” Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at the CNA think tank, told the War on the Rocks podcast. This must be a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Kofman was also worried about what might come next if Putin’s regime does fall. “I’m not saying it’s going to be replaced by something better,” he said. “If you don’t like the authoritarian system now, you may not like the authoritarian system that comes later.”

How to stop a nuclear war

it’s extremely dangerous for U.S. officials to talk about regime change in Moscow — in the style of the reckless Senator Lindsey Graham, for instance, who has called on a “Brutus” or “Stauffenberg” to rid the world of Vladimir Putin. If you make your nuclear-armed enemy believe your strategy requires the end of their regime (or very life), you are pushing them, again, toward the no-choice zone that almost trapped Colonel Petrov.

Should the US support covert action against Russia?

The False Promise of Arming Insurgents: America’s Spotty Record Warrants Caution in Ukraine

It is important to note that because covert operations are, by their nature, secretive missions involving foreign intermediaries, they are often rife with opportunities for misattribution and escalation. Biden administration officials have stated the United States could potentially train insurgents in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia for cross-border operations into Ukraine. There is an inherent danger in this approach, however: Moscow might be willing to risk cross-border incursions into NATO territory to dry up supply lines to anti-Russian fighters, just as the United States bombed Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War to stop infiltrations from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Likewise, the aforementioned 2012 CIA study found that foreign insurgencies seldom succeeded without “direct American support on the ground.” If a Ukrainian insurgency were to falter, the United States might be tempted to dispatch special operations forces into Russian-occupied territories. If these troops were killed or captured by Russian forces, the risks of escalation would grow even stronger… As that example demonstrates, if the United States would need to tread carefully in Ukraine. Today, Russia has its nuclear forces on “special combat readiness” and is using an outdated early warning system to monitor for signs of a foreign attack. Washington thus needs to be cautious about the risk that a covert operation could somehow be erroneously perceived by Moscow as an attack. Although this warning may sound alarmist, anyone who has studied the history of nuclear accidents knows that there have been plenty of disturbing close calls and false alarms in peacetime—let alone when Russia is engaged in major combat 500 miles from Moscow.

The World’s Most Dangerous Man Putin’s Unconstrained Power Over Russia’s Nuclear Arsenal

It may even be possible after the invasion itself ends. Consider, for example, what would follow a Russian “victory.” Even if Russia succeeds in occupying all of Ukraine and establishing a puppet regime, the Ukrainians will fight on, and the war will continue as a bloody insurgency. The United States and NATO would likely smuggle arms to Ukrainian fighters, as Washington did to the mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Putin might then order Russian forces to invade and destroy NATO bases in neighboring countries in order to stop the resupply operations. The targeted country might then invoke Article 5, resulting in a war between NATO and Russia that could easily turn nuclear.

Should the US take a hard line against Russia?


The Return of Conquest? Why the Future of Global Order Hinges on Ukraine

Likewise, if Putin attempts to absorb Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk—areas he has long claimed as Russian territory—and the rest of the world acquiesces, it would weaken but not completely overturn the norm guarding a state’s territorial integrity, because most of Ukraine would remain intact. Even so, the acceptance of a limited violation of the norm might do more damage in the long run than a rejection of a major violation of it. After all, it is likely that the West’s relatively weak response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea emboldened Putin.

There is reason to fear that Putin’s ambitions go well beyond these goals. As his remarks questioning the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent country suggest, Putin seems interested in much more than merely putting a crony in charge of a former Soviet republic or carving out parts of the country; he may be contemplating redrawing the map of Europe to hark back to imperial Russia. If Russia were to take over the entirety of Ukraine, Putin would drive a stake into the heart of the norm against territorial conquest.

To preserve the norm against territorial conquest, the global community should keep up the pressure on Russia, even if Putin’s goal is to annex only Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. The Western alliance, for example, should not fully lift sanctions on Russia until and unless Putin recognizes Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. International jurists should take Ukraine’s various suits against Russia seriously, not just in the context of this specific conflict but also with an eye to any precedents their decisions might set. Along these lines, it is worth paying attention to how the accusations that Russia has committed the crime of aggression play out. The fact that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can veto a referral for the crime of aggression to the International Criminal Court exposes a troubling vulnerability of the norm against territorial conquest. It is hard to maintain norms when great powers are determined to break them.

If the global community fails to enforce the norm against territorial conquest, the states bordering great powers will face the highest risk of extinction. Among the most concerning aspects of a return to a world of violent state death are the effects invasions have on civilians. Annexationists frequently engage in indiscriminate targeting, similar to what is happening today in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, to quell and even depopulate areas. In other words, the demise of the norm against territorial conquest could see an increase in not only the incidence but also the brutality of war.

NATO: Grow a backbone

NATO members must stop wasting oxygen on speculations as to what Putin’s red lines are but must determine what theirs will be — starting with a demand to stop killing and starving civilians — particularly now that Russia has turned Mariupol into the Auschwitz of the 21st century and made 10 million Ukrainians homeless. Does NATO not realize that his reign of terror across Ukraine is designed to create and weaponize a humanitarian crisis involving millions of refugees to destabilize Europe? He did this by destroying Syria and tried to do it in Belarus last summer. This tactic is a major attack on NATO countries, a declaration of war that must be counterattacked immediately and forcefully.

Europe’s timidity and inaction are immoral. Zelensky’s most pointed rebuke for not doing enough was toward Israel for refusing to send weapons or to criticize Russia for its invasion, apparently because Russia lets it attack Hezbollah in the Syrian territory it controls. Zelensky, Jewish himself, reminded them of the similarity between Putin and Hitler’s genocide and rampage, then said profoundly: “Indifference kills. Calculations kill. It is possible to mediate between countries, but not between good and evil.”

Would Russia Destroy the World Over the Ukraine?

The larger context of the second Russian invasion of Ukraine is Moscow’s long-standing objective of destroying NATO—in addition to neutralizing Ukraine, despite the latter not yet being a NATO member. However, considering that Moscow has no acceptable off-ramps short of victory, the United States is now facing the serious task of deterring the use of nuclear weapons in a regional conflict. Further, perhaps the gravest challenge facing the United States is ensuring that the current conflagration that Putin started does not expand beyond Ukraine into the Baltics and other independent friends of the United States. Should the United States fail to respond to Putin’s nuclear threats out of fear of triggering Armageddon, NATO may perish then and there as its constituent members individually seek security deals with Moscow to prevent further conflict. A final consequence worth considering is what China will conclude in response to NATO’s potential impotency. Will the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership take NATO inaction as reflective of the United States’ willingness to defend Taiwan? Thus, three decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States is now in an even more dangerous place than it was before. For Washington is no longer facing just one nuclear-armed, totalitarian adversary, but two. And the question of whether their leaders’ aspirations of hegemony can be deterred by the prospect of untold thousands of deaths has never been more uncertain.

‘We win, they lose’: America must end the danger Putin poses

The Biden administration is understandably concerned about escalating the conflict in Ukraine, but Putin does not share this sentiment. Taken too far, their legitimate worry can unintentionally give Moscow a form of psychological mastery over Washington policymakers, undermining principles of extended deterrence that has kept comparative peace in Europe since 1945. Stop telling Putin what America won’t do. Asked what kept him up at night, former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis replied, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.” It’s time for the United States to disturb Putin’s sleep.

Why the Ukraine Matters

If Russia indeed achieves its aims in this war on Ukraine, other countries might decide to try something similar. China might attempt to seize Taiwan. Israel might retake the Gaza strip. Saudi Arabia might fully occupy Yemen.

But it’s the United States, with the most powerful military in the world, that I’m worried about. The Putin precedent may well inspire a Trumpist president in two short years. Unconstrained by the so-called guardrails, Trump or someone like him might well return to the unfinished business of attacking Iran or Venezuela. Or perhaps he would borrow more explicitly from Putin by launching an invasion of Cuba to install a U.S.-friendly regime.

This is why Ukraine matters. The death, the destruction, the forced migration: these must engage our attention, our empathy, our financial contributions. But we must also care about Ukraine because it’s yet another opportunity to strengthen our anti-war resolve and to redouble our commitment to democracy. And what’s happening halfway around the world might become our reality here in the United States two years hence, if we don’t mobilize to push back against Putinism wherever it rears its ugly head.

Time to shift strategies: We must do more to aid Ukraine

The risk of escalation is more serious. But the Allies could place their nuclear forces at increased readiness levels. Putin does not want to cross this threshold any more than the Allies. But so far, he only sees the Allies staying behind their own red line, while he is threatening to cross it. The West should begin acting on its convictions and capabilities, not its fears. The sanctions on Russia already have changed the dynamic in Moscow. The Allies can increase pressure on Putin by strengthening their nuclear position. This course has risks, but so does the current course:  providing support to protract the fight, but not enough to end it.

Should NATO establish a humanitarian no conflict zone in the Ukraine?


Why NATO should establish a humanitarian no-conflict zone in Ukraine

Today, NATO faces both moral and strategic imperatives to respond to Zelenskyy’s call for help. Some 10 million Ukrainians (of a population of around 45 million) are now displaced, and while the United Nations estimates that at least 925 civilians have been killed, that number is likely far too low. Many more are subjected to Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment of cities, among other atrocities. The responsibility to protect looms large over the Alliance and the United States—which shouldn’t forget that Ukraine answered their calls for support in military operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Should the US give Ukraine Patriot interceptors?

Why the US Won’t Give Patriot Interceptors to Ukraine

Pentagon officials will not send the advanced Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine, saying Thursday that U.S. forces would need to enter Ukraine to operate it, which is a non-starter for the Biden administration. The decision comes one day after U.S. officials rejected a proposal from Poland to have the United States and NATO transfer Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. “There’s no discussion about putting a Patriot battery in Ukraine. In order to do that you have to put U.S. troops with it to operate it,” a senior defense official said Thursday. “It is not a system that the Ukrainians are familiar with and as we have made very clear, there will be no U.S. troops fighting in Ukraine.”

Should the US/NATO retaliate if Russia uses chemical weapons?


Cheney: Use of chemical weapons by Russia should be considered ‘red line’

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Sunday said that the use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine should be considered a “red line” by the U.S. and NATO. Cheney, during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” told host Chuck Todd that “we, in the West, United States and NATO, need to stop telling the Russians what we won’t do.” “We need to be very clear that we are considering all options and use of chemical weapons is certainly something that would alter our calculation,” she said.

Should The US/NATO increase force deployments in Eastern Europe?

Top U.S. General Says More Bases Needed in Eastern Europe

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday that the United States should build additional military bases in Eastern Europe to deter further Russian aggression in the region, although he suggested limiting their facilities and rotating troops through rather than maintaining a permanent presence.

Will sanctions stop Russia?


Everything You Need to Know About Sanctions

Economic sanctions: what they are, how the US has used them in foreign policy, and considerations for current policymakers.

The Toll of Economic War

The Russian-Ukrainian war of 2022 is not just a major geopolitical event but also a geoeconomic turning point. Western sanctions are the toughest measures ever imposed against a state of Russia’s size and power. In the space of less than three weeks, the United States and its allies have cut major Russian banks off from the global financial system; blocked the export of high-tech components in unison with Asian allies; seized the overseas assets of hundreds of wealthy oligarchs; revoked trade treaties with Moscow; banned Russian airlines from North Atlantic airspace: restricted Russian oil sales to the United States and United Kingdom; blocked all foreign investment in the Russian economy from their jurisdiction; and frozen $403 billion out of the $630 billion in foreign assets of the Central Bank of Russia. The overall effect has been unprecedented, and a few weeks ago would have seemed unimaginable even to most experts: in all but its most vital products, the world’s eleventh-largest economy has now been decoupled from twenty-first-century globalization.


The New Economic Containment

Yet even if sanctions are unlikely to deter authoritarian leaders on a warpath, the right implementation can complicate those leaders’ future course of action. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may not have been deterred by sanctions, but the costs constrain Russian behavior. Indeed, in other cases, these costs have induced behavioral change over time. For example, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at first responded to U.S. sanctions with open defiance, saying, “Turkey does not respond to threats.” But pressure on the Turkish lira eventually persuaded him to cede to U.S. demands, and he released the imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson. If offered a face-saving option to retreat—for example, Ukrainian neutrality—Putin will likely take the chance to stop the economic hemorrhage and pull out.


Can sanctions alter Putin’s behavior?

The third insight is that Putin is likely to be enjoying the tougher rhetoric from the West these days. It likely does not pressure him. He has seen Western leaders come and go, and only a few — former German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes to mind — got his number and dialed it. Tougher rhetoric or tougher sanctions — trying to out-Putin Putin — seem very unlikely to threaten him. So far, no one has out-Putined Putin.

Sanctions Won’t Bring Down Putin, But They Will Punish the World

The war aims announced in the course of the Total Economic War Against Russia (TEWAR) suggest that the end of the sanctions comes only with Putin’s downfall and Russia’s collapse. The expectation that Putin or Russia will fall, however, is extravagant, given the historical record of states under pressure. While it is perfectly possible to inflict tremendous pain on the Russians, it is also true that few other peoples have taken more, in the way of pain and sheer malevolent suffering, than this very same people. Twenty-seven million lost in World War II. Countless millions in the thirty years before. Even if embargoed from the world, thrown into economic upheaval, and deposited in a stifling police-state, today’s Russia still looks good compared to long chunks of twentieth-century history, when Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn discovered that the worst thing in the world was to be born a Russian.

The United States thinks now about Russia in exactly the same purblind way it thought about its adversary in Vietnam in the 1960s. Another gradation of pressure—bomb them some more, back then; another brutal sanction on Putin, right now—will make them cave. In the former case, it didn’t have that effect. It made them angrier and stout in opposition. The more you bombed, said one Vietnamese observer, the more we wanted to fight you. The weapons of economic war will probably produce the same effect. In the Russian case, this conclusion follows especially because of the widespread hatred and vitriol directed against anything Russian in wide sectors of the West. That means that they only have each other. External rejection strengthens their bonds of national communion.

Judy Asks: Can Sanctions End Russia’s War in Ukraine?

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has imposed sanctions of an unprecedented scale. While these raise the cost of war for Moscow, on their own they are unlikely to change Putin’s calculations.

For the West, the Worst is yet to come

Today, the reality is that the Russian state is paying for its war against Ukraine with the funds it receives every day from the sale of oil and gas. Though the Biden administration is taking steps to ban the import of Russian energy, and Britain and the EU have said they will phase out or sharply reduce their dependence on it, each and every day for now, Russia receives $1.1 billion from the EU in oil and gas receipts, according to the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. In total, oil and gas revenues make up 36 percent of the Russian government’s budget, the German Marshall Fund estimates—money, of course, it is now using in a campaign to terrorize Ukraine, for which the West is sanctioning other parts of Russia’s economy. It is an utterly absurd situation, like something from a satirical novel.

How the West undermines its own sanctions

Rampant financial anonymity in places like the U.S. makes it relatively easy for powerful rich people to evade sanctions. A Russian oligarch may have multimillion-dollar mansions in Washington, D.C.; or multiple steel plants across the Rust Belt; or a controlling stake in a hedge fund in Greenwich, Connecticut; or an entire fleet of private jets in California; or an array of lawyers setting up purchases at art houses around the country. And all of that wealth can be hidden—perfectly legally—behind anonymous shell companies and trusts that are enormously difficult to penetrate.

Can sanctions stop Russia?

The important thing is to have clarity about the aims of the sanctions. Our governments in the West have said the end of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the withdrawal of all troops and equipment, and respect for the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine is the goal. But in imposing the new sanctions, they haven’t reiterated it. There is not a common, clearly shared U.S.-European position. That fosters speculation about the goal maybe being regime change. If you are a paranoid Russian nationalist right now, that would be a very plausible interpretation. That raises the stakes. It makes it existential. It increases the chance of [the Kremlin] having an adverse response…. Given that Russia is even more powerful and is a nuclear-armed state, we should make clarity, to the degree that we can, the absolute priority. We just can’t afford errors or a major escalation.

India buys 3 million barrels of Russian oil: report

India’s state-run oil company purchased 3 million barrels of Russian crude this week as numerous other nations bar such imports due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported on Friday. Indian Oil Corp. made the purchase despite international pressure, led by the U.S. and other western nations, to freeze Russia out of the global energy market over the incursion. India, the world’s largest democracy, imports about 85 percent of the oil it uses.

Will Russia attack Moldova?


Putin’s next target may be Eastern Europe’s Moldova, analysts warn

As Russia faces staunch and seemingly unexpected resistance on the ground in Ukraine, analysts have warned that President Vladimir Putin may be considering his next target.
Moldova, a landlocked Eastern European country situated on Ukraine’s western border, is at risk, given its similarities with its neighbor.
Like Ukraine, the former Soviet republic is not part of the European Union, nor is it a member of NATO — though it has ambitions to be both.
It is also home to a sizeable pro-Russian separatist population based in the breakaway state of Transnistria.


Will the war increase nuclear proliferation?


Watching Russia’s military failures is exhilarating. But a cornered Putin is dangerous.

— The Ukraine war’s creepiest byproduct is its demonstration of the utility of nuclear weapons. NATO isn’t intervening directly in this war with a no-fly zone because Russia has 4,000 nuclear weapons. It’s that simple. And let’s be honest: Would Putin have invaded if Ukraine had kept its nuclear arsenal back in 1994, when the United States pressed it to disarm? I doubt it. The lesson won’t be lost on Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea — go down the list. This war might prove the greatest stimulus to nuclear proliferation in history.

— Russia’s invasion has also shown that a nuclear power can engage in vicious regional aggression without paying the most severe price. America and its NATO allies are deterred in this conflict, but Russia isn’t. The paradox of our restraint is that it enables the unrestrained. Somehow, the balance of deterrence must be restored.

Should Putin be provided with an off ramp?


Can sanctions change Putin’s behavior?

So, what is the West to do? If sanctions won’t work, and no-fly zones will lead to the unviable option of likely nuclear escalation, what then?

Swallow hard now. To alter Putin’s behavior, the West must de-escalate this conflict. To do so, my view continues to be that a way must be found to make Putin look good. I have written before about the need to find offramps for him.

How can the West make him look good now? First, treat him like a serious negotiating partner, like Churchill and FDR did with Stalin, instead of engaging in childish demonizing. Second, include Russia in the global security architecture, even if that means as a leading partner of the anti-NATO alliance emerging between Russia, China, Iran and others. Let Putin show his and Russia’s power. Legitimize and recognize that multipolarity, rather than doubling down on Russia’s isolation. Moves like Biden calling to remove Russia from the G-20 aren’t helpful.The West should make Putin look good, not because Putin is a nice guy or a good guy. Rather, because it’s the best available alternative and in the West’s best interests. Because the global consequences of an unstable, nuclear-armed Russia ruled by an angry, isolated and very clever man (or a successor of unknown type) are far, far worse than even the horrible situation on the ground in Ukraine today.

Putin’s go-to move is always going to be to bomb the village and negotiate with the ashes. Even if it turns out as it always does. And the Russian leaders after Putin will do the same.

Washington Can’t Treat Russia as It Does North Korea

The implication in U.S. and NATO policy statements is that the punitive approach will continue indefinitely unless Russia capitulates. Indeed, given Biden’s recent accusation that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, it seems likely that nothing short of Putin’s ouster would slake the Western thirst for retribution.

Such an attitude is profoundly unwise. Insistence on Russia’s capitulation and humiliation virtually guarantee that the war in Ukraine will continue to rage on, causing a rising toll of casualties on both sides. The Kremlin will have little incentive to reach a compromise peace if there are no significant benefits to be gained. Conversely, a promise that Russia’s international and political status will be restored as soon as the fighting ends would create an inducement for Moscow to compromise and seek an early truce. That is especially true since the invasion has proven to be a much slower and more costly slog than Russian leaders anticipated.

Beyond considerations about ending the tragic Ukraine conflict sooner rather than later, there is another compelling reason for the United States and its allies to adopt a more flexible and conciliatory approach. Pursuing a strategy of isolating Russia diplomatically and economically over the long term amounts to trying to replicate the U.S.-led policy toward North Korea that has produced decidedly unsatisfactory results.

Frankly, it has been myopic and counterproductive even to treat North Korea like North Korea. Isolating a country that is gradually, but successfully, developing a small nuclear arsenal and an effective delivery system is extremely dangerous. North Korea’s new test launch of a missile that apparently has sufficient range to reach the U.S. mainland is the latest evidence that the isolation strategy is not working. Applying the same rigid, misguided approach to a country that is one of the world’s major powers and already possesses several thousand nuclear weapons would be much worse. However angry they might be, the United States and its allies must not seek to treat Russia as an international pariah.

U.S. and NATO leaders need to take a deep breath and develop a strategy to restore the West’s relations with Russia to normal as soon as possible. That modification may need to include easing some sanctions even before the fighting in Ukraine comes to an end. Above all, NATO governments must convey a message to the Kremlin that the West’s long-term strategy does not amount to Cold War 2.0. Such a myopic, confrontational approach would not only do lasting damage to the global economy, it would significantly increase the chances of a catastrophic military collision. Like it or not, Russia is—and will continue to be—a major player in the international system. It is not feasible to treat it like the West does North Korea.

What Putin needs to negotiate a deal on the Ukraine

For any outcome to be acceptable, Putin has to be able to portray himself, with the aid of his propaganda apparatus, as a winner….To accept any negotiated end to the war, the Russian president probably needs his forces to withdraw from Ukraine with their reputation intact. This will not only affect any negotiations over the status of Ukraine but also for other conflicts and issues in which Russia may become involved.

Watching Russia’s military failures is exhilarating. But a cornered Putin is dangerous.

The longer this war continues, the more dangerous it will become. Russia will bleed out, in the corpses of its invaders and the ruin of its economy. The world will cheer. But as this process continues, a desperate Putin may become more likely to escalate this crisis toward a world war. A combination of military pressure and diplomacy that presses Putin toward a settlement is in everyone’s interest. Compromises will be anguishing but necessary.

What if Russia Makes a Deal?

For Kyiv, legally binding security guarantees—involving the United States, Russia, European countries, and potentially Turkey, as well—are crucial. Such guarantees would be the equivalent of extending NATO’s Article 5 to Ukraine: committing to go to war if Ukraine’s sovereignty or the terms of any potential agreement between Ukraine and Russia were violated. Such a pledge would certainly be a dramatic and precedent-defying step for the United States and its allies, which have tried to avoid being dragged into the war. Putin may not agree to it—or he may not agree to it in good faith. But binding guarantees—in contrast to the unenforced Budapest memorandum of 1994, which Russia first violated in 2014 by seizing Crimea—would furnish all sides with a solution to the essential problem of Ukraine’s security. Real bilateral or multilateral security guarantees would be better than NATO’s policy of having an open door in general but a closed door for Ukraine. Putin could sell this solution—the foreclosure of any chance that Ukraine would ever join NATO—as a win. At the same time, a U.S.-backed security guarantee to Ukraine could deter Russia from attacking Ukraine again.

Should Finland Join NATO?

Finland has hinted that it may not apply to join NATO for fear of upsetting Russia and sparking cyber attacks

President Sauli Niinisto said Russia could invade if Finland tries to join alliance
Helsinki would face mass cyber attacks and ‘robust’ army response, he predicted
Russia has warned Finland not to provoke ‘detrimental military consequences’
The two countries share an 830-mile border and fought a vicious land war in 1940 – but Stalin’s men got bogged down and failed costly, months-long invasion

Should the Ukraine become neutral?

The Case for Ukrainian Neutrality A Deal Doesn’t Have to Be a Death Sentence

While neutrality would carry risks, it need not be a death sentence for Ukraine. It may, in fact, be the best possible outcome, given where things stand after more than three weeks of war. The key to making neutrality work for Ukraine is shaping it in a way that ensures that renunciation of NATO membership does not come at the expense of the country’s self-defense or its prospects for an economic and political future in the West. Such an outcome is possible thanks to the leverage that Ukraine’s doughty military performance will give Zelensky at the negotiating table; it may become increasingly acceptable to Moscow if the Russian military continues to prove incapable of securing its objectives on the battlefield.

How can we reduce the risks of a nuclear war?

How to Stop a Nuclear war

Clear commitments — we will fight here, we won’t fight there — are the coin of the nuclear realm, since the goal is to give the enemy the responsibility for escalation, to make it feel its apocalyptic weight, while also feeling that it can always choose another path. Whereas unpredictable escalations and maximalist objectives, often useful in conventional warfare, are the enemy of nuclear peace, insofar as they threaten the enemy with the no-win scenario that Petrov almost found himself in that day in 1983.

Should the US adopt a nuclear No First Use policy?


Putin’s Nuclear Threats Are a Wake-Up Call for the World

Although Russia is highly unlikely to adopt a “no first use” policy at the moment, MacDonald acknowledged that “even a unilateral U.S. declaration would still reduce the risk of a misunderstanding or miscommunication causing a conventional conflict to escalate to a nuclear exchange.”

Why America should not deepen its involvement in the Ukraine

Next, we must change our attitude toward nuclear weapons, understanding that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous. The U.S. nuclear arsenal does nothing for us in this conflict. It did not keep Mr. Putin out of Ukraine. Because he is willing to use the threat of nuclear war to deter intervention in Ukraine, the existence of nuclear weapons, if anything, helped enable him. He is the only one suggesting a willingness to use nukes as a cover to brutalize weaker states. We must continue to stigmatize and limit nuclear weapons to reduce the chances that Russia will do this again.

The Biden administration can help by changing its nuclear policies accordingly. Mr. Putin is threatening to use nuclear weapons first in this conflict. The Biden administration should rule out first use and seek to build an international consensus around the idea that the sole purpose for nuclear weapons is to deter their use by others. Mr. Biden has supported this position for years. In addition, the United States should start now to build international support for the deep reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons so they cannot be used by strongmen and autocrats to enable their atrocities.

Should the European Union accept the Ukraine as a member?

Background: (1) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said Ukraine belongs in the European Union and the bloc would like to see the country be a part of it in time. The Guardian; (2)  Zelenskyy urges EU to grant Ukraine ‘immediate membership


The Guardian

The office of the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, said Italy wants Ukraine to join the European Union. Ukraine had offered “heroic” resistance to the Russian invasion, Draghi said, promising continued support for refugees fleeing the fighting, as well as military aid. The Italian leader told parliament: The arrogance of the Russian government has collided with the dignity of the Ukrainian people, who have managed to curb Moscow’s expansionist aims and impose a huge cost on the invading army.

How will the war end? 

What Putin needs to negotiate a deal on the Ukraine

One of the biggest questions about the war in Ukraine at this point is what Russian president Vladimir Putin’s exit ramp would look like. He has too much of his standing and prestige invested in this expedition for the United States and its allies to expect him to execute a U-turn and a tail-between-the-legs withdrawal, even if Ukrainian resistance were to continue being as stubborn and effective as it has been so far. For any outcome to be acceptable, Putin has to be able to portray himself, with the aid of his propaganda apparatus, as a winner.

Where Is Russia’s War Against Ukraine Headed?

How will this end? Unfortunately, optimism is not on the table. There are a number of possible outcomes: first, Putin’s more aggressive policy succeeds and a rump Ukraine under his remote control is established; second, Putin fails to depose Zelenskyy and his government, and resorts to horizontal escalation, which could expand the war to countries providing aid to Ukraine, or even vertical escalation which involves the use of tactical nuclear weapons to avoid the humiliation of defeat; third, a protracted conflict that continues for many weeks or months of both conventional and unconventional warfare, under the ever-present shadow of possible nuclear escalation; or, fourth, a sense of exhaustion sets in on all sides, and a process of negotiation results in an acceptable, if messy, peace agreement—essentially an armistice, brokered by countries like Turkey, Israel, France, or Germany. The fourth option is the cleanest shirt in a dirty laundry, but it will require clear thinking and professional approaches to conflict termination. Can we get there? Hopefully, before there is more death and destruction.

Should the US accept more refugees?


Another 40,000 people have fled Ukraine in 24 hours, AFP reports.

UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine, Karolina Lindholm Billing, said many of the nearly 5 million people who have fled Ukraine will not have homes to return to because they are damaged, destroyed or located in unsafe areas:

Housing is one of the areas of greatest concern. Although hundreds of thousands of people are now staying in temporary reception centres or with hosting families who have generously opened their homes … longer term solutions need to be found.”

According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, 4,836,445 million Ukrainians have left the country since the Russian invasion on 24 February.

Poland welcomes Ukrainian refugees with open arms — but will the country crumble under the weight of the crisis?

But some Polish mayors have already sounded the alarm about their cities’ getting overwhelmed, and residents in Rzeszów, close to the border, also said they had concerns. Working at a stationery kiosk at Hala Targowa shopping mall in the city center, Anna Slabosz said she feels “misery and despair” when she sees Ukrainian mothers and children arriving in her town, but she is also worried about Poland’s national debt increasing as the country spends millions helping Ukrainian refugees.  “I think that this will affect us, the Polish nation, negatively,” Slabosz, 61, said.

She is also worried about the toll on the health care system.

Ukrainian Refugees and Europe: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Ukrainian refugees, fleeing their homeland, are among the hundreds of thousands seeking asylum in the United States at the Mexican border, living in dangerous conditions and sleeping in tents as they wait to start their immigration process.

Reuters reported last month that a growing number of both Russians and Ukrainians were travelling to Mexico and taking their chances at the border. A major misconception is that those seeking entry at the border are coming only from Central American countries – with the border as a major point of entry into the US, those especially desperate to escape persecution (and with limited options) must hedge their bets. An increasing number of Black immigrants from African and Caribbean countries have been attempting to seek asylum at the border in recent years.

Why Russian-Ukrainian Peace Talks Won’t End Putin’s War

Preparing for a prolonged stay of refugees—who will have to be integrated—the EU recently proposed to reallocate $3.74 billion for housing, education, employment, and healthcare for Ukrainians, with national governments following suit one by one. Hungary, for example, recently proposed to provide additional funding for public schools taking in Ukrainian children, as well as to subsidize accommodation expenditures for refugees. Similar measures across the EU, coupled with extra strain on the union’s universal healthcare systems, will cost billions and billions more for national budgets if hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians will have to be integrated.

One thing is clear: this marathon can only be won with EU-wide solidarity towards the most affected member states—Germany, Czechia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania—as well as transatlantic burden-sharing based on our common values and principles. The $1 billion pledged by President Joe Biden might just be the first in a series of aid packages.

US looks to resettle more Ukrainian refugees: reports

The United States is reportedly looking to resettle more Ukrainian refugees, including those with ties to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, as Russia’s invasion extends into its fourth week. Three people familiar with the matter told Reuters the Biden administration is planning to launch an initiative that would allow more refugees to come to the U.S., with one person telling the news outlet it would entail delegating more people toward handling temporary “humanitarian parole” applications and streamlining processing visas for those who have U.S. citizen and permanent resident relatives.

Poland’s Refugee Challenge is too big to handle alone

Poles will soon be asked tough questions about what they can afford, what is the limit of their generosity, and whether the international community is providing sufficient aid given the burdens that Poland is being asked to bear.

UN: 6.5 million people displaced inside Ukraine due to war

The U.N. migration agency said Friday that nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million who have already fled the country. That means that around a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people have been forced from their homes.

Moldova overrun by refugees

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova is putting huge pressure on its health care system and it has appealed for help from the European Union and UN agencies, the country’s health minister said today. More than 331,000 refugees have entered Moldova since Russia invaded Ukraine and 100,000 of them are still in the country, Ala Nemerenco told a joint press conference with the World Health Organization (WHO), streamed live from Chisinau. Reporting for Reuters, Karol Badohal reminds us that Moldova is a small, former Soviet republic sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, an EU member. It is one of Europe’s poorest countries and has a total resident population of just 2.6 million people. It aspires to join the EU and Nato.


Refugee Apartheid and Ukraine

Over a million Ukrainian citizens have fled to other European countries. African, Asian, Caribbean nationals living in Ukraine may not be able to do the same.

White House ‘focused’ on ways to help growing Ukrainian refugee crisis

The Biden administration is “focused” on ways to help Ukrainian refugees, as the number of people displaced by the war continues to grow, according to U.S. officials. More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency, in Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. “As the numbers increase, as the burden increases for European partners, we will certainly do everything we can to help,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday, adding it was “something we’re very focused on right now.”

Racism in refugee policy

The Humanitarian Impact of the War in the Ukraine

Thus far, there has been immense support from Europe and the United States for the people of Ukraine. “Poland has been taking the biggest toll in terms of receiving people,” Tayyar says, with an estimated 1.8 million Ukrainian refugees now in Poland. While this is the correct response and is applauded by the humanitarian aid community, it is also challenging to watch Poland take in so many Ukrainian refugees as those fleeing other conflicts wait on the border. Tayyar draws attention to the Syrian refugees waiting on the border of Belarus and Poland to enter the European Union. These refugees have been suffering in freezing temperatures and snow. Watching this, Tayyar says, “we have mixed feelings … many of us have been criticizing how there are still structural racism and discrimination.” She adds that “the bottom line was these … people were seeking protection at the same borders, at the same country, and those [who] were denied access are still being denied access.” The contrast in how these refugee populations are treated is stark.

Ukraine: The Refugee Double Standard

In the weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated the invasion of Ukraine, Brown and Black people fleeing Ukraine continue to experience racism and violence, including in neighboring EU countries. Romanian police officers aggressively removed Ukrainian Roma women from refugee-dedicated rooms just recently. Polish police officers also pointed guns at African students. This war, a looming humanitarian catastrophe, has unleashed new, overt, and cruel manifestations of racism on the continent, revealing longstanding double standards at the global level.

The Ukrainian humanitarian crisis has brought many extraordinary examples of global solidarity to light. Yet, journalists, politicians, non-profit organizations, and the international community keep signaling to the world that only attacks on white lives are attacks on humanity. A recent statement by former Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine David Sakvarelidze represents the beliefs and thoughts of many. “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair…being killed every day.” This narrative reinforces an old civilized/barbaric stereotype, in which white European people are portrayed as inherently peaceful while African/Middle Eastern people are thought to be predisposed to conflict and war.

The Refugee Crisis

The Ukrainian Exodus: Europe Must Reckon With Its Selective Treatment of Refugees

Europe now hosts more refugees than any other region in the world. The oft-cited UN figure that 85 percent of the world’s refugees are in low- and middle-income countries no longer holds. The Ukraine crisis reveals that recent dislocations of people—for instance, the waves of refugees predominantly from the Middle East who reached Europe in 2015 and 2016 and the record numbers of asylum seekers from Central America arriving at the U.S. border in the past few years—are not an aberration. Forced displacement will be a defining challenge of the twenty-first century everywhere. That reality has profound implications for how Europe aids refugees. The continent can no longer act just as a distant donor of humanitarian and development aid; now, it must develop the capacity to welcome large numbers of refugees, no matter where they are from.

Has Russia Committed Genocide in the Ukraine?


Russia committed war crimes. But are they genocide?

Is Russia committing genocide in the Ukraine?

Is Putin a war criminal?

EXPLAINER: Who’s a war criminal, and who gets to decide?

The term applies to anyone who violates a set of rules adopted by world leaders known as the law of armed conflict. The rules govern how countries behave in times of war. Those rules have been modified and expanded over the past century, drawn from the Geneva Conventions in the aftermath of World War II and protocols added later.

“Clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes” – Pentagon

The rules are aimed at protecting people not taking part in fighting and those who can no longer fight, including civilians like doctors and nurses, wounded troops and prisoners of war. Treaties and protocols lay out who can be targeted and with what weapons. Certain weapons are prohibited, including chemical or biological agents.


The Horror of Bucha 

But the murders at Bucha are merely one entry in a litany of atrocities. The targeting of Ukrainian civilians is so ubiquitous that it can only be intentional: On Febuary 25, a cluster bomb struck a preschool in Sumy where civilians sheltered; on March 9, Russia attacked Mariupol’s maternity hospital; on March 16, it bombed that city’s municipal theater, killing 300 people, despite the fact that children had been painted in large white letters on the ground in front of the sanctuary; and it has leveled apartment blocks in Kharkiv, Kyiv, and every other city that it has sought to capture, as if the destruction of the Ukrainian home was part of the war plan. The Kremlin even agreed to humanitarian escape corridors from besieged Mariupol and then turned around and shelled the refugees who used them.

Pentagon accuses Russia committing war crimes 

The US defence department just held a news briefing and accused Russian forces of committing war crimes in Ukraine and said it would help gather evidence of them, as it accused the Kremlin of carrying out indiscriminate attacks as part of an intentional strategy in the conflict, Reuters reports. “We certainly see clear evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes and we are helping with the collecting of evidence of that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing.

Thousands of Mariupol residents forcibly taken to Russia, city council says

The city council of Mariupol, Ukraine, said on Saturday that thousands of the city’s residents had been forcibly taken into Russia, with the mayor likening their removal to actions performed by the Nazis during World War II, CNN reported. Mariupol, which sits in the southeastern region of Ukraine, has been the site of constant attacks by Russian forces, who city officials say killed several thousand residents in one day alone last week. The city has seen a mosque, a children’s hospital and a theater bombed, among other buildings.

Can Russia be held accountable for war crimes in Ukraine?

The unprecedented media coverage of Russia’s invasion has recorded the commission of war crimes in real time. The Russian military has targeted civilian infrastructure including apartment buildings, hospitals, factories, stores, churches, schools, and cultural sites. Even where a military target exists, using disproportionate force while knowing that the strike will likely cause death or injury to civilians or damage to civilian structures is a war crime.

Siege tactics to starve civilians into surrender or to force them to flee as refugees, which now number nearly three million, represent clear war crimes, as would any use of cluster munitions or so-called vacuum bombs on civilian areas. The use of a tactical nuclear weapon, which Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have implied is a possibility, would constitute a war crime because of the collateral damage to civilian lives and property. The use of chemical and biological weapons against any target—civilian or military—would as well.

Crimes against humanity. Russia’s invasion likely also involves crimes against humanity, which are those committed as part of widespread or systematic attacks directed at a civilian population, with knowledge of those attacks. Such crimes include murder, the forcible transfer of a population, severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, persecution against identifiable groups of civilians, sexual violence, and inhumane acts of similar character that intentionally cause great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

Genocide. Prosecutors may also investigate claims of genocide, which requires the intentional destruction of all or part of a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. Genocide includes not only killing, but also causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group (in this case, those of Ukrainian nationality) or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Establishing the genocidal intent of senior Russian leaders, however, could prove difficult.

Putin ‘deports Ukrainians to camps’: Russia is accused of genocide by putting refugees in ‘filtration’ centres and forcibly taking them to remote Siberian towns after confiscating their phones and documents

Punish Putin for past and present war crimes

But justice will remain incomplete if these inquiries don’t connect the dots with Putin’s crimes in Chechnya, Syria, and elsewhere. If he had been stopped after Grozny, would he have unleashed brutal force in Aleppo? And had the world collectively held Putin accountable for his military’s abuses in Syria, would he have felt emboldened enough to bomb Ukrainian cities?

At this early stage, there are already promising signs that the international community will pursue the full spectrum of Russian state responsibility for previous atrocity crimes as the horror in Ukraine continues to unfold. For instance, the ICC’s top prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced that he’s seeking arrest warrants against three people—including two Russian nationals—for their crimes against ethnic Georgian civilians committed during Russia’s 2008 invasion.

But this is not enough. It’s vital that Putin and other Russian decision makers are held accountable for all their abuses, and that the international community avoid a “hierarchy” of victims, where violations against Ukrainians are punished but identical violations against Syrians are not. Selective justice can discredit international law as a whole.

What is white phosphorus, and what does it mean that Russia may be using it in Ukraine? 

Because of its incendiary effects, the use of phosphorus in war is supposed to be tightly regulated under international law — but it is not banned. Phosphorus is not classed as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

When used as a weapon, it can cause fire to rain down on targets, inflicting indiscriminate damage. It is illegal, therefore, for phosphorus to be used near civilians, because international law requires that combatants distinguish between civilian and military elements.


The Guardian 3/22

When Migrants Become Weapons

None of this bodes well for the future of liberal democracy or for the protection of the world’s most vulnerable. If the current dynamic prevails, not only will weaponized migration continue to be an ever more pervasive symptom of a collapsing global migration regime, with the destabilizing, self-reinforcing effects that come with it. In addition, Western governments may begin to undermine the human rights and freedoms they purport to stand for. If the advanced liberal democracies are to survive as advanced and liberal and democratic, they will need to find a way to keep their borders secure without losing their identity, their values, and the liberal state itself.


Calling Putin a war criminal is a bigger deal than you think

Related – The International Criminal Court

The Role of the International Criminal Court

What else can be done?


How the US Can weaken Putin

The immediate focus of the United States and allies must be on the Russian military and diplomatic corps to encourage defections. Putin’s orders are worthless if Russian soldiers and diplomats refuse to carry them out—if they recognize that the emperor has no clothes. Ultimately, the result might be that the emperor is no more.

Is Zelensky a hero?


(1): EU officials have noted that the leadership of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and particularly his intervention by video at the European council on the Thursday night, has been a key driver in a change in approach towards the crisis by the 27 member states and their leaders. In his appeal for aid during the leaders’ late night summit in Brussels, Zelenskiy had told the EU’s heads of state and government that with Kyiv encircled it may be the last time they would see him. An EU official said: “I think the intervention by president Zelenskiy will be part of history. It was very emotional, the leaders were deeply impacted, the silence in the room was impressive. A heavy atmosphere.” They said: “it made the difference to create this dynamic that we see today with leaders approving the transfer of delivery of weapons, Swift being on the list, and my guess is that it will continue”. The Guardian (2) Zelensky emerges as global hero in Ukraine battle against Russia (3) President Zelensky is a profile in courage CNN]

Has the US engaged in similar wars in the past?


Ukraine is Putin’s Vietnam

Russia is waging a terror bombing campaign on civilians and is killing Ukrainians indiscriminately. It is painful to remember. but the U.S. dropped more ordnance on South East Asia than it did during World War II. The targets were supposed to be “military.” In the South, the “search and destroy” strategy was to wipe out the enemy with the infamous “body count” as the metric. The CIA conducted an assassination program in the South called Phoenix. About 50,000 Vietnamese “agents” were terminated with extreme prejudice. No one knows how many Vietnamese were killed in that and the larger war.  The number could have been in the millions.   If today’s modern communications had been omnipresent in Vietnam, the images would resemble what is happening in Ukraine today and in every war.

Should the US Increase Its Defense Spending?

Click here for resources.


We Have Reached a Hinge of History

The backlash to globalization, consumerism, and cultural homogeneity sent strongmen in search of an updated brand of identity politics. The corruption that enriched kleptocrats isolated them from accountability, engendering cynicism and apathy within societies. The creation of national-security states veiled the machinations of governments while providing endless justifications for defensive aggression. New technologies facilitated the dissemination of propaganda and disinformation on a mass scale, so that it’s hard to tell where Putin’s invented pretexts end and his own motivations begin.

These forces are not unique to Russia; they are all around us, and have left us in an unsustainable situation. How could this many nationalist autocrats emerge in so many different places, working from such a similar playbook? How much more strain could a creaky international system bear before it broke? How could problems be solved, wars avoided, and democracy defended when truth and objective reality were becoming so flexible, with people locked in different closets of information? How much longer could the pressures build before an explosion?

Putin has long been a source of these pressures, simultaneously dragging us back into the darker recesses of history while capitalizing on the vulnerabilities of our present moment. He was at the vanguard of autocrats who claimed power through democracy only to dismantle it. He enriched his circle by selling commodities to the West while lambasting its immorality. He disrupted the international system by taking advantage of the obstruction it afforded him. He suppressed

dissent while flooding social media with disinformation that radicalized not only Russians but communities around the world. Vladimir Putin is both a figure of the past and a man of his time.

Out of this kind of righteous rage—shaking democracies from complacency, forcing citizens to discard the luxury of cynicism, rejecting the inevitability of autocracy—perhaps a new world can be born. We have reached a hinge of history. At issue is not just the future of Ukraine but that of the world that will emerge on the other side of this war. If we heed the lessons of this moment, we can rebuild from the rubble a renewed international order that once again places democratic values over the more transitory impulses of profit and immediate gratification. If we don’t, things could get much worse.


The Information war isn’t over yet

Disinformation as Cyber Harm:  An Existential Threat to Democracies

Inside Russia’s propaganda bubble: Where a war isn’t a war


For the West, the Worst is yet to Come

Right now, the world’s second-most powerful state, China, is committing genocide against its own people and dismantling the freedoms of a city of several million, but the West continues to trade with it almost as if nothing is happening. Even as Western governments busily sanction Russian oligarchs, they continue to let Saudi oligarchs buy up their companies, sports teams, and homes, despite the fact that their leader, according to U.S. intelligence, approved the butchering of a journalist in one of his embassies. In Syria, long after Barack Obama declared that Bashar al-Assad “must go” and predicted that he would, the dictator remains in power, backed by Putin. Across the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab Spring has largely petered out into a new set of brutal dictatorships, save for one or two exceptions. In Africa and Asia, Chinese and Russian influence is growing and Western influence is retreating. It may be comforting to say that Putin’s troubles in Ukraine now prove the enduring power of the old order, but it is difficult to draw that conclusion when looking at the world as a whole.

Competing Against Authoritarianism

The militaries of the liberal order fail to secure the societies they serve when they cede the informational and nonmilitary space to authoritarian assaults, and at great peril. Informational weapons and methods of authoritarianism are part of a military revolution with the power to degenerate the liberal order and thereby weaken Western resolve and military readiness. As the U.S. and its partners prepare to deter or wage large scale combat operations against authoritarian imperialism from states such as China and Russia, they must also protect against illiberal vectors and nonmilitary weapons of authoritarianism that threaten to fracture military and civil capacity from within. Countering this threat requires an offensive, cost-effective, and interorganizational approach to military and nonmilitary domains to protect and promote liberal democratic conditions anywhere.