And Putin took his rifle | International
The threat issued by President Putin against any third country that intends to interfere in his military campaign to invade Ukraine and, above all, the order issued last Saturday to his Defense Minister, Shoigú, and to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Armed, Gerasimov, to put their nuclear deterrence forces on combat alert, have triggered all the alarms in the West and greatly stressed the international community. First of all, the apparent disproportion between the very serious measure activated with respect to the cause or pretext adduced for its unleashing was surprising. Putin says he is reacting in this way to the "adoption by Western countries of illegal economic actions" against Russia, as well as to "aggressive statements by leaders of important NATO nations."
But that disproportion between cause and effect that is so evident in Western eyes is nothing more than a reflection of the lack of graduation of possible conventional military responses by Russia to the war escalation that Putin provoked with his invasion of Ukraine a few days ago. And it reveals the narrow margin of maneuver that he has to win military victory before reaching the fateful nuclear threshold. And that is, in my opinion, the biggest structural problem we are facing right now.
Since the implosion of the USSR in 1991, the Russian Armed Forces, due to the budgetary limits derived from the decline of its national GDP in comparative terms with the West, have been losing relative positions compared to the combined sum of the conventional capabilities of Russia's allies. the Atlantic Alliance. To compensate for such a cession of conventional land, Moscow has invested in its nuclear arsenal, which is cheaper to develop and modernize, as well as in state-of-the-art hypersonic weapons.
Thus, it was easily foreseeable that, engaged in a military conflagration, Russia would have a relatively short conventional route to impose its military superiority on a resistant enemy before having to resort to nuclear deterrence. Worse still, among its nearly 6,000 nuclear missiles, Moscow has hardly any short-range or tactical weapons, most of them long-range and intercontinental strategic ones. This would imply that, within the nuclear spectrum, Putin would not have the option of using tactical nuclear weapons with limited, precise and surgical effects (such as eliminating an enemy battalion or regiment). If he decided to cross the nuclear threshold, he would soon resort to strategic weapons, thus causing an unpredictable escalation and likely Armageddon.
And now we can understand a little better why Putin is escalating so quickly and unexpectedly his war language and his threats in the face of the setbacks and setbacks he is encountering in his war. We in the West would do well to help him de-escalate his rhetoric and get him out of the alley he has led us all into.
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