Putin, his position shaky, may begin new aggression with nuclear blackmail, Piontkovsky says


International, Op-ed, Russian Aggression

Russia is not in a position to engage in an arms race with the United States, Andrey Piontkovsky says; but Vladimir Putin does have “a plan for victory.” It involves using nuclear blackmail on the assumption that if he threatens to use nuclear weapons, the West will back down rather than respond to any Russian threat or first use.

In the event of a clash between Russian and NATO forces or a Russian invasion of the Baltic countries, the Russian commentator says, Putin plans to say that “’either you retreat and admit defeat or I will use nuclear weapons.’” This is the advantage any “thug” has, Piontkovsky continues.

Putin supposes, he says, that “in response, the West will retreat and capitulate,” and a weaker Russia will defeat a stronger opponent.

A major reason he thinks so is that one of the reasons Ukraine did not contest Moscow’s invasion and annexation of Crimea was that Russia has nuclear weapons and Ukraine does not.

This perspective makes “Putin much more dangerous than the Kremlin leaders at the end of the Soviet period.” After the Cuban missile crisis, “they understood that a nuclear confrontation threatens the mutual destruction of all humanity” and did not make threats of this kind.

Putin’s approach is that of a thug from the St. Petersburg streets who now in the Kremlin has “raised nuclear blackmail to the chief instrument of [Moscow’s] foreign policy.”

Because that is the case, one need not fear an arms race as much as the continuing use of nuclear blackmail by Putin.

And that is all the more so now when Putin’s “power is shaking, the Putin myth is dead, and his support is falling away.” In such circumstances, making such threats and the possibility that they will be believed is all the more likely given that the Kremlin leader likely sees them as a way out of his current doldrums.

The recent speech by the chief of the Russian general staff is a clear indication of this and should serve as a warning to the West.

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Edited by: A. N.

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