How Putin Will Go Nuclear
We are in a war with one man, Vladimir Putin. And Vladimir Putin is nuclear.
Putin has made two kinds of nuclear threats. He has threatened to use nuclear warheads. And he has implicitly threatened us with deliberate disasters at the nuclear reactors he has captured.
But that’s not all. Since the year 2000, Russian military policy has been to use “a limited nuclear strike” if you’re losing. In fact the Russian government’s official “military doctrine” calls “a limited nuclear strike ‘de-escalation.’” You heard that right. Russian military doctrine calls the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield de-escalation. Why?
Because if Russia is losing to the overwhelming conventional forces of the United States and NATO, a limited nuclear strike will make those overwhelming forces withdraw in fear.
The development of that new military doctrine 22 years ago was supervised by just one man: his name is Vladimir Putin. And “all large-scale military exercises that Russia [has] conducted beginning in 2000 [have] featured simulations of limited nuclear strikes.” And Business Insider reports that Russia now has a “massive arsenal” of 2,000 battlefield nuclear weapons.
What’s worse, the Putin doctrine of limited nuclear strikes extends to any conflict “in which Russia has an important stake” Which means it’s applicable to the Ukraine. Or to any Eastern European country that once belonged to the Soviet Union.
Why is Vladimir Putin so willing to use nuclear weapons? Because he can’t compete with us in conventional military terms.
According to American Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, we outspend Putin on our military fifteen to one. We have 25,000 planes. Putin has 5,000. We have four million troops. Putin has only one million. But we have a gaping weakness. We see the first use of a nuclear weapon as a step toward the apocalypse, a step toward the end of the world, and a step toward the possible end of the human race.
So we are far more restrained about using nuclear weapons. In fact, we have a taboo against it. That gives Putin an edge.
He and we are in a game of chicken. He who flinches first loses. Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of the Ukraine, has called for a no-fly zone from the west. We are afraid that if we put our pilots in the sky over the Ukraine and they down Russian planes, we will be on the slippery slope toward nuclear destruction.
So we have flinched. Out of fear of nuclear war, we turned down the chance to have Poland give its Russian jet fighters, its 28 MIGs, to the Ukraine. So we have flinched.
Our fear gives Putin the edge.
Two more things give Putin an edge. Russia has traditionally won wars by accepting more deaths among its troops and its civilians than any other power. As one Russian soldier taken prisoner in the Ukraine put it, “we are being used as meat shields.” Russia reportedly lost over 5,000 soldiers in the first two weeks of the Ukraine war. That’s more in a mere fourteen days than America lost in the entire course of the Iraq and Afghan war. To us, a loss like this would be disastrous. To Vladimir Putin, it is nothing.
Then there’s Alexander Dugin, the geopolitical thinker who has been lecturing the Russian military’s General Staff since the early 1990s and whose views appear to be foremost in Putin’s mind. Dugin said on March 6th that after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, America thought it was the only chess player on the game board of the world. Now Vladimir Putin has shown up to take over the other side of the board.
In Dugin’s eyes, Putin is reasserting the natural rights of the Russian Civilization. Says Dugin, the attack on the Ukraine was a necessity. Of course this attack would be bloody, shrugs Dugin nonchalantly. But Dugin declares that “without the Ukraine, Russia cannot once more become an empire.” You heard that goal right. Putin and his geopolitical theorist Alexander Dugin want a Russian Empire.
So how do we beat Vladimir Putin? Courage. Standing tall. Today that involves getting Volodymyr Zelensky the planes he needs.