Nuclear weapon: Washington ignores Putin’s threats

By mobilizing 40 countries and allocating a budget of 33 billion to Ukraine, Washington chooses to ignore Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons and confronts Moscow in an increasingly less veiled manner, apparently unafraid of pushing the Russian president to his limits bring to.

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The day after a Washington-organized meeting in Ramstein, Germany to organize around forty countries’ support for Ukraine, Mr Putin on Wednesday promised a “swift and lightning-fast” response in the event of external intervention in the dispute.

The Russian president mentioned “those tools that no one can brag about anymore,” a thinly veiled reference to the tactical nuclear weapon that Russian military doctrine envisages being used to force an opponent to retreat.

Far from backing down, Joe Biden responded the next day by asking Congress for a whopping $33 billion budget expansion, of which $20 billion must go to arms sales, almost seven times the still-impressive amounts of arms and ammunition , which have already been delivered to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, which started on February 24.

The US government is now supplying heavy weapons such as artillery, helicopters and drones to Kyiv after long hesitation for fear of spreading the conflict to other NATO countries.

Those concerns appear to have faded in Washington, where Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Monday, returning from a visit, aimed to “see that Russia is weakened to such an extent that it cannot do the same things as the invasion of the United States.” Ukraine”. to Kyiv.

Within the US administration, the nuclear threat posed by Russia has now been brushed aside.

Joe Biden therefore criticized Vladimir Putin’s “irresponsible” threats on Thursday, judging that they “showed the sense of despair Russia feels at its dismal failure in relation to its original goals”.

And on Friday, a senior Pentagon official said Washington “does not believe there is a threat of nuclear weapons being used or that NATO territory is threatened.”

For Lawrence Freedman, professor emeritus at King’s College London, the various threats from Russia are “taken less seriously than before”. “It’s already diminished performance,” he adds on his blog.

Conclusions shared by Gideon Rose of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “Moscow will not use nuclear weapons during the conflict,” he assured Foreign Affairs magazine.

Vladimir Putin “knows that extraordinary reprisals and general shame would follow, without any strategic advantage to justify them, not to mention that the radioactive effects that this would cause could easily fall on Russia,” he adds.

Despite Mr. Biden claiming that the United States is “not attacking Russia,” Washington has just accelerated shipments of military equipment to Ukraine and is now openly training Ukrainian soldiers in heavy weapons, having done so discreetly.

The conflict is therefore taking on all the trappings of a “proxy war” against Moscow through Ukrainian mediation, notes Princeton University’s Sam Winter-Levy in the War on the Rocks blog.

Such a proxy war, like that between Saudi Arabia and Iran by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, is “the worst possible outcome” because it harbors the risk of escalation and this type of war usually lasts a long time, estimates the expert from the also works with the American Military Academy at West Point.

But “it might be the best possible option” because Westerners “have no choice,” he adds. “At the end of the day, the only options worse than a proxy war are a cheap Russian victory in Ukraine, or a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia.”

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