One of the most dangerous trends in Russia today is the increasingly casual approach many people there have about the possible use of nuclear weapons in ever more places, something that goes far beyond commentators and officials who suggest that in extremis Moscow might have to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Instead, there appears to have been a normalization of such discussions of something that until very recently all but the most marginal viewed as unthinkable, something that opens the door to the possibility that senior decision makers will conclude that Russians are quite prepared for the use of such weapons.
The latest example of this comes from the results of the inherently unrepresentative survey Mikhail Delyagin, the director of the Moscow Institute on the Problems of Globalization, conducted among his followers concerning what he says is Azerbaijani aggression in Qarabagh.
The commentator asked them “whether they considered appropriate the use of tactical nuclear weapons for the liquidation of the oil industry of Azerbaijan in response to its aggressive actions which it has taken out of the conviction that Russia is powerless to respond given its focus on Ukraine.”
Twenty-eight percent said such use was “necessary because “the Turkish proxies from Baku won’t understand anything else. Thirteen percent said it was “impossible” because of “the critical influence of the Azerbaijani mafia on the Russian authorities.” And 60 percent said it was “impermissible.”
Fortunately, a majority said that such an action was beyond the pale, but more than 40 percent are quite ready to back it. In the case of the possible use of such weapons, however, the fact that so many are ready to use them is far more disturbing than that a bare majority is still opposed.
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