'A cornered weakling' — Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats are an act of total desperation: conservative
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and a new non-communist government called the Russian Federation emerged, one of the things that had led to its demise was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That invasion had been a major drain on the Soviet Union both economically and militarily, and while it wasn’t the only factor in the end of the Soviet Union after 69 years, it was certainly a major factor.
Now, in 2022, the 31-year-old Russian Federation is suffering economically because of a different invasion: the invasion of Ukraine. When Russian troops, on February 24, entered Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin was obviously hoping for a quick takeover of the country. But Ukraine’s military have turned out to be much more vigorous and determined fighters than Putin anticipated.
Never Trump conservative Tom Nichols, in an article published by The Atlantic on September 27, stresses that Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine is an act of desperation.
“Although Putin may be willing to take greater risks as the military situation in Ukraine deteriorates,” Nichols writes, “he likely knows now that the cumulative effect of his multiple blunders in Ukraine has been to jeopardize the stability of his regime and the Russian Federation itself. Russia is a pariah state; the entire nation and its leading figures, right down to Putin’s rumored girlfriend, are under sanctions. Young men, supposedly Russia’s great macho warriors, are jamming the roads to Finland and Georgia trying to flee the country. Putin’s own commanders are asking for permission to retreat, and even some of Putin’s most gleeful warmongers in the Russian media, including the ghoulish Margarita Simonyan, seem freaked out by the accelerating disasters that have changed Russia’s image from a major power to a cornered weakling in only seven months.”
Nichols adds, however, that he still believes “that Russian use of a nuclear weapon is unlikely.” But Putin, according to Nichols, is willing to make the threat out of desperation.
“One of the reasons Putin’s been able to prosecute this war is that he promised it would be quick and painless,” Nichols observes. “Risking nuclear war after trying to drag hundreds of thousands of men into the military, while radiation blows across Europe after a nuclear attack on Ukraine, would likely be the breaking point for Russian society and a fair number of its elites…. Putin knows from history how fast an invulnerable position in the Kremlin can become exceedingly vulnerable.”
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