Vladimir Putin has 'less kinetic' ways to 'intimidate the West' than deploying nuclear weapons: report

Vladimir Putin has 'less kinetic' ways to 'intimidate the West' than deploying nuclear weapons: report
Image via Creative Commons.

Militarily as well as economically and politically, the invasion of Ukraine has not been going well for Russia — and President Vladimir Putin, obviously frustrated, has said the unthinkable by threatening to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. In the United States, President Joe Biden has warned that Putin is “not joking” and that allies of Ukraine must take the threat seriously.

But reporter Todd Prince, in an article published by Radio Free Europe’s website on October 11, emphasizes that Putin has other possible ways to get back at the West that don’t involve using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“Analysts say Putin may be more likely to use other, less kinetic means to try to intimidate the West into curtailing its support for Ukraine such as targeting critical offshore energy pipelines and data cables, as well as satellites orbiting Earth,” Prince reports.

READ MORE: Chances of 'cornered' Vladimir Putin going nuclear in Ukraine 'going up by the day': ex-CIA officer

Sean Monaghan of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies told Radio Free Europe, “The war with Ukraine is not existential (for Russia). It's a war of choice. A war with NATO would be existential.”

Prince reports that the RAND Corporation’s William Courtney, a former career diplomat, “also said Russia is more likely (to) escalate by attacking a pipeline, internet cable or satellite.” Courtney told Radio Free Europe. “Rather than striking the territory of a NATO member, Russia might look at a target that is more ambiguous in terms of how NATO would respond.”

The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been an unintended consequence of the invasion of Ukraine — and an obvious source of frustration to Putin. Sweden and Finland, in response to the invasion, decided to apply for NATO membership after decades of opting to stay out of the alliance. And Ukraine has asked to apply for NATO membership as well.

In contrast to former President Donald Trump — who toyed with the idea of pulling the U.S. out of NATO — Biden has been aggressively pro-NATO. The Biden Administration and the United States’ European NATO allies have been rallying around Ukraine during the invasion, and Biden has made it clear he welcomes new NATO applicants such as Sweden and Finland.

READ MORE: 'This is so crazy': Vladimir Putin is running out of options in Ukraine. Experts are split on what it means

Retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster views Putin’s willingness to “rattle the nuclear saber” as a sign of his desperation. McMaster also believes that Russia’s recent missile attacks against Ukraine could have the unintended consequence of making Ukraine even more determined to keep resisting the invasion.

McMaster, discussing those missile attacks, told CBS News, “All of this was meant to affect Ukraine's will in a negative way. Of course, I think it has had the opposite effect.... I think it's bolstered the will of the Ukrainians to fight for their sovereignty and their freedom."

READ MORE: 'Don't want another Chernobyl': Ukrainian nuclear power plant employees face 'a Catch 22 for the ages'

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