Is Putin Bluffing on Using Nuclear Weapons?

The real question we should be asking is if the U.S. is bluffing when it says that there will be catastrophic consequences for a Russian nuclear attack, writes Alexandra Vacroux in The Boston Globe.

“Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, once considered Russia’s top reform-oriented politician, wrote on the Telegram messaging platform this week. Both he and Vladimir Putin have warned this week that they are not bluffing — Russia is willing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Asking ourselves if the Kremlin is actually bluffing is a waste of time. The Kremlin is warning us that they are ready to violate the nuclear taboo if Russia’s very existence is threatened. And they would. Putin could also choose to use other taboo weapons like chemical or biological agents. The point is that nothing is off the table for the Russians, and parsing speeches or social media posts is not productive.

Read More

The full text of this article is available via The Boston Globe. 

Executive Director, Davis Center

Alexandra Vacroux is the Davis Center's executive director, overseeing graduate studies and other initiatives while doing scholarly work on various policy issues.