has russia used nuclear weapons in ukraine

However, as long as NATO does not intervene directly in Ukraine and the Russian regime does not feel existentially threatened, both intentional and unintentional nuclear use remain extremely unlikely. Some countries afraid of their neighbours will doubtless take noteas they will have taken note of the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, both of whom abandoned nuclear-weapons programmes, and the comparative impunity enjoyed by Mr Kim. So might a general scorn for international opinion. However, this also means that even a relatively limited use of nuclear weapons carries the risk of massive escalation. On the one hand, the Western states want to increase their economic and military pressure in order to impair Russias ability to wage war and thus bring about a change inpolicy.

With Russia waging a war of conquest and members of nato providing Ukraine with increasingly capable weapons with which to fight back there is a small but real risk that the two sides might stumble into a war which escalates beyond the nuclear threshold. French President Emmanuel Macron later stated that it was almost NATO policy not to supply certain weapons systems to Ukraine, hinting that other Western European governments shared Berlins views. Nuclear attacks on a NATO country would begin escalation that Russia could not control. What is more, nuclear weapons do not make your territory invulnerable. Regional actors with nuclear ambitions, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, are watching closely. At an election rally in 2019 Narendra Modi, Indias prime minister, addressed Pakistans reminders that it had nuclear weapons which would deter India with mockery. How the Kremlin assesses the risk of such a loss of prestige remains unclear, but it would, nonetheless, need to consider that its own populations support for the war may dwindle. Perhaps the most problematic consequence concerns the role of nuclear weapons in international relations. Indeed, it would be the first country to do so since 1945.

However, the Kremlin apparently considers the potential consequences of a possible expansion of Western involvement to be so dramatic that it sees the need to draw red lines. Lavrov made the comments in an interview Tuesday with India Today TV in which he avoided a direct answer on the subject. A follow-up published this February by the original authors and Janina Dill of Oxford University showed that this grim calculus held beyond America. In principle, delivering some of the disarmament promised under the npt could reinforce the non-proliferation norm. A single nuclear strike would not alter the military balance in the war. All but the most precocious of the children who picked up on their parents dread at the time of the Cuban missile crisis are in their late 60s. Berlin also needs to seriously consider the long-term effects of Russias war of aggression and threatening gestures. Copyright The Economist Newspaper Limited 2022. Both states have thousands of nuclear weapons that can be mounted on various delivery systems; and this is meant to ensure that even after suffering a massive first strike, the attacked would still be able to carry out a retaliatory second strike. This suggests that there are cases where, for messaging purposes, nuclear weapons might have to be used simply because they are nuclearperhaps because the public would expect a nuclear response to a nuclear attack and find anything less unforgivable. After all, this annual exercise of Russias nuclear forces normally takes place in the fall, and Russian news coverage deliberately drew attention to the event. However, these fears are unjustified. On the other hand, as the brutality of the war grows, public pressure totake steps that could bring the conflict closer to the nuclear threshold will increase. Since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has conducted an intense campaign of nuclear signalling and threats designed to provide it with a strategic advantage.

First and foremost, Putins threats appear tobe directed at Western governments. The more one doubts Putins rationality, the greater these risks appear. ThisCommentappears within the framework of project STAND (Strategic Threat Analysis and Nuclear (Dis-)Order). While limited arms control measures could be added to the agenda as part of negotiations to end the war, more far-reaching steps remain unlikely in the long term. Finally, the invasion of Ukraine has also undermined Russias credibility, which is a necessary condition for arms control talks. Technical problems, such as faulty radar signals, could also cause a purely accidental escalation. In 1962, the United States was much more involved in the crisis as it took place in its immediate geographic proximity; it was more invested, not only with respect to its own influence and security interests, but also in terms of its readiness to potentially escalate the situation. On the other hand, the West cansupply arms to Ukraine on a large scale and inflict immense damage on the Russian economy without undue concern that Moscow might respond with nuclear weapons. You can unsubscribe or opt-out at any time. NATOs principle of collective defence, its forward deployed US nuclear weapons and the fact that Europe, as one of the worlds three most important industrial centres, was critical to the US-led Western order, all lent further credibility to Washingtons commitment to follow through on this threat. The air-dropped bombs which make up the small nuclear arsenal America keeps in Europe can have their yields reduced to very low levels. The balance is maintained as long as neither dares to launch a disarming attack on the other. The situation would be different if Russia were to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. The Biden administration has restricted the range of ammunition it provides to Ukraine with the M-142 HIMARS multiple rocket launcher to 80km (the M-30 series of munition), withholding longer-ranged MGM-140 ATACMS. It would not have been easy. Nuclear warfare against Ukraine makes no sense. It is now closer still. And the lack of progress towards disarmament by America, Britain, China, France and Russia, the nuclear-armed states party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (npt), was continuing to erode the legitimacy of the regime that treaty established. For many Western politicians and experts, the costs and risks of a direct Western intervention do not currently seem justified. Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in 1973, Argentina seized the Falkland islands in 1982, Pakistan mounted an incursion into the Kargil region of Indian-held Kashmir in 1999. There are no established verification regimes for new weapons such as hypersonic gliders and undersea drones. In terms of arms control, pacts between America and Russia had almost all lapsed; Russia was developing new weapons, such as Poseidon, not covered by the agreements that remain; Chinas nuclear arsenal was expanding rapidly.

As long as neither Washington nor Moscow think that the other side could improve its position by using nuclear weapons, an inadvertent escalation remains unlikely. Privately, politicians and officials from various European countries have told this author of their belief that Russia could or would use nuclear weapons if it faced the prospect of defeat in Ukraine. But that will not happen. The Soviet Union did not resort to nuclear threats during its Afghanistan campaign. Western governments are wary of such an expanded conflict with potential nuclear implications, given that it is difficult to separate conventional and nuclear escalation risks. If there was a certain hypocrisy about all thiswhich there wasit was one that exemplified the French aphorist La Rochefoucaulds definition of the term: the tribute that vice pays to virtue. It is often among policy elites that the nuclear taboo is treated most seriously. This would put the US system of alliances under extreme pressure, as it would heighten the threat perception of countries such as Japan or Poland. In addition, even Russia-friendly actors such as India or China would see their interest in sustaining a relatively stable international system threatened and would need to rethink their position vis--vis Moscow.

Thats how many of our people think, and I fear that this is the line that they are passing along to Moscow.. The extreme destructive power of nuclear weapons is not suitable to achieve these ends.

The damage the war has done to the material state and reputation of Russias armed forces takes us back to the late 1990s, says Kristin Ven Bruusgaard of the University of Oslo. The mixture of norms, treaties, mutual assurances, blandishments, suasion, technical mechanisms, fear and taboo which has kept the world from seeing nuclear weapons used against armies or cities since 1945 was looking pretty ragged even before Vladimir Putin, Russias president, warned on February 24th that third parties standing in Russias way risked consequencessuch as you have never seen in your entire history. This prompted widespread speculation about whether the war aims of the White House differed from those of the state and defence departments.

The result would be extreme destruction with global consequences disproportionate to Putins political goals in the war against Ukraine. People do not dabble in cannibalism when they are a little hungry; rather they resist until they are on the verge of starvation, Dr Sagan and Dr Valentino have written.

A statement by Russias Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu thenext day indicated, however, that Putins announcement merely referred to an increase in personnel at some command centres and thus a comparatively minor measure. Dr. Liviu Horovitz and Lydia Wachs are Researchers in the International Security Research Division at SWP. In addition, the United States postponed a planned missile test in order to avoid further rhetorical escalation. China seems intent on narrowing the warhead gap with America. This is the first time a state has used the threat of nuclear weapons to engage in a colonial conflict or a war of expansion. In 2020 America deployed the W76-2, a low-yield weapon fitted to submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This was the first time since the 1960s that Moscow had made such a public announcement regarding its nuclear alertness, even if its exact meaning was at first unclear. It is also possible that the population at large was never as squeamish on the subject as their leaders. This would run counter to Moscows long-standing interests in non-proliferation and would irrevocably transform Russia into a pariah state rather than its self-declared status as a guarantor of global stability. The value of nuclear weapons as a tool of statecraft hinges on the outcome of this war, argues Dr Budjeryn. Bloomberg Daybreak Europe, anchored live from London, tracks breaking news in Europe and around the world. European Council on Foreign Relations 2022, Denys Davydenko, Margaryta Khvostova, Olga Lymar, Cinzia Bianco, Ellie Geranmayeh, Hugh Lovatt, Summer resolution: How to sustain public support for Ukraine, Wilder Europe: Enlargement and a European political community, Immediate impact: How Western heavy weapons are already helping Ukraine halt Russia, Bide and seek: The dangers of US support for a Gulf-Israeli defence pact, Putins archaic war: Russias newly outlawed professional class and how it could one day return, No cold war, please: How Europeans should engage non-aligned states. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors. In todays war in Ukraine, by contrast, Washington is refraining from taking reciprocal counter-measures in response to Putins nuclear threats. He isnt responsible for military decision-making. In this way, Moscow aims not only todeter Western governments from providing more substantial support to Ukraine, butalso to intimidate the Western public. The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. Aside from direct Western entry into thewar, a second scenario could also have the potential to significantly aggravate the situation. America is unwilling to limit future missile defences, which Russia and China would like it to do. Putin hasalways directed his nuclear threats not atUkraine but at the West. Stiftung Wissenschaft undPolitik, 2022. Sweden and Finland could quickly join NATO, a nuclear alliance. How nuclear weapons are thought about and talked about is changing. With no enemies halfway around the world to threaten with icbms, Ukraine gave up the arsenal, receiving in return assurances from America, Britain and Russia that it would be safe within its borders. In the future, many states will rely much less on commitments made by Russia but also by other nuclear powers. The lack of nuclear wars in the years since Americas destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she argued, was not simply a matter of deterrence. Save for Queen Elizabeth II, there is no one anywhere near the corridors of power who remembers, as an adult, hearing the news from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every few days, some Russian official is making explicit nuclear threats. And such thinking runs deeper than broadcast bombast.

This pushes NATO, and also the EU,to consider how such states desires for credible security guarantees can be met. Within the alliance, doubts may increasingly arise among the Eastern and Central European member states as to how desirable strategic stability between Moscow and Washington truly is. Second, Berlin should convey to the German public that the use of nuclear weapons is unlikely. But the wars impact on the nuclear order is not confined to the question of whether nuclear weapons will be used in the conflict itself.

While it had been known for a few months that the exercise would take place in early 2022, the choice of timing seemed linked to the Ukraine crisis. But they will not allow the country to recapture its territory and defeat the Russian military.

That is the opposite of a taboo.

Accordingly, Moscow would use its nuclear forces in the event of a nuclear attack on Russia and/or ifthe existence of the state were threatened by conventional aggression. For instance, Poland and the United States agreed in March 2022 not to deliver Polish Mig-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Political decision-makers as well as experts should try to shed more light on this complex and disturbing topic. Rather, the Kremlin seems to be using nuclear weapons to pursue expansive political goals. The Russians are really brandishing this, says Dr Tannenwald. In light of the unexpected resolve of Europe and the United States, Moscow may be wondering what further measures the West could take.

Moscow would of course be able to completely destroy the country with nuclear weapons; but the Kremlin can only achieve its ostensible long-term goals namely, establishing control over Ukraine, limiting its sovereignty and imposing a neutral status that prevents it from moving closer to the EU and NATO through the use of conventional force. As the taboo had strengthened, seeking to acquire nuclear weapons had come to be seen as the mark of a barbarian. If Moscow succeeded in using sucharms without suffering massive consequences, this would affect how other nuclear-armed states such as China or North Korea assess the costs and benefits of nuclear options. A modern Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzer of the kind Germany has now supplied to Ukraine is far more lethal than a 1970s-era Leopard 1 main battle tank. Even the attempt to shield the invasion from outside intervention by using nuclear deterrence will have negative consequences; and these consequences will be especially problematic should Russia win the war. The single non-proliferation agreement of note made in the past decade, the jcpoa deal in which Iran limited its nuclear programme in return for relief from sanctions, was hanging by a thread, with the Islamic republic closer to a bomb than ever. Today not so much. However, the West is currently far from breaching the relevant thresholds. Thus, it apparently seeks to signal that direct interference could trigger extreme that is, nuclear counter-measures. Part of the issue may simply be one of time and forgetting. And Russia is more committed to nuclear weapons than ever.

In the current war, intentional or unintentional nuclear escalation has once again moved into the realm of possibility, as warned by UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres on March 14. These conclusions will also play an important role for the future of security cooperation with states beyond NATO and for reassurance within the alliance. Instead, Moscow is likely to increasingly rely on nuclear deterrence as a prolonged war and effective sanctions weaken Russias conventional capabilities and its regenerative capacity. Moscows rhetoric thus suggests that it is interpreting its own nuclear doctrine more broadly. One could always have anticipated that Putin would use a nuclear scare to influence the Wests position. Despite Moscows threats, both conceptual nuclear strategy considerations and historical experience suggest that under todays circumstances the probability of an intentional use of nuclear weapons remains extremely low.

A clear majority said yes: killing up to 2m Iranian civilians was an acceptable price for avoiding 20,000 American deaths that would result from a continued invasion. After North Korea tested an icbm that could reach America in 2017 Donald Trump, a president with little time for taboos, threatened North Korea with fire and fury like the world has never seen. Even if the United States wants the war to end, for Washington it currently remains a regional conflict posing only a limited threat to US security interests. Militarily, these swap deals make no sense, as they only delay assistance to Ukraine and provide it with inferior materiel. Slovakia now plans to donate its Mig-29s to Ukraine. Such wording is traditionally considered to imply a threat to use nuclear weapons. Putin seems eager to preserve his personal position of power, which raises the question of the means he might resort to in order to secure his regime.

To see such nicety stripped away, tune in to the state-owned television channel Russia-1. Even if eastern NATO members continue to trust US security guarantees, fears are likely to spread that Russia could achieve a rapid military success (or fait accompli) against other states, and shield those gains with its nuclear weapons. It is conceivable that this fear is the main restraint on their support for Kyiv.

Therefore, it would make little analytical sense to outline scenarios on the premise of Putins irrationality, especially since this would allow for few viable policy choices. An Indiana University graduate becomes a go-to stylist for professional athletes, finding rare clothes and sneakers that everyone wants. Unless it loses in Ukraine, the world will become a far more dangerous place. With its nuclear threats, the Kremlin is moving away from Russias doctrine that ascribes a protective role to its nuclear arsenal. Ukraines economy in the 1990s was in poor shape, says Dr Budjeryn, and it needed help from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bankhelp which might not have been forthcoming if the country had decided to invest heavily in producing weapons-grade nuclear material for a sovereign nuclear arsenal. Bloomberg Surveillance: Early Edition with Francine Lacqua live from London, bringing insight on global markets and the top business stories of the day. Historical comparisons, for example with the Cuban Missile Crisis, are only of limited usefulness. At the international level, both the war and Moscows threats are undermining non-proliferation and arms control efforts. The cold-war shadows in which the nuclear taboo grew up, which only started to disperse after Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, have been gone for 30 years. Russia could only respond to retaliation for a nuclear strike with further nuclear escalation which would be suicidal. Therefore, the German government should better explain to the public the extent to which Putin is pursuing a destabilisation strategy while also highlighting where the real risks of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia lie.

Such ascenario could arise, for instance, if one party to the conflict misinterprets risky steps taken by another, thereby setting into motion a dangerous dynamic. All of this suggests that while conventional conflicts could very well spiral out of control, they are unlikely to cross the nuclear threshold unless both sides take a number of additional escalatory steps which currently remains a distant possibility. With respect to its own citizens, the Kremlin must sustain the narrative that the West is hostile to Russia, and in doing so it justifies the high cost of sanctions. What is distinctive about this war is not that the aggressor has nuclear arms, or that their use has been threatened. It is therefore important that NATO states communicate their actions and intentions clearly and in close consultation both to Moscow and to their own publics. What nuclear weapons offer that is unique is the ability to put whole cities at risk and threaten populations in the tens or hundreds of millions. It is also about the effect their presence in it will have on the norms and incentives according to which other states make decisions in other places. Share your feedback and help us improve our websites design and usability. There is also the fact that breaking the taboo on the use of chemical weaponsa taboo which, unlike the nuclear one, is codified in international lawhas turned out to have lower costs than might have been expected. It is not just because of their presence that the war is changing peoples thinking about nuclear weapons. President George H.W. While Germany should continue tofocus on balancing deterrence and dialogue, it seems necessary to prioritise the former in the short and medium term. Such arbitrary restrictions cannot have come from military advice or from independent risk-benefit calculations. Arguably, there are many reasons why the alliance would decide to intervene, including: a destabilised Europes potential consequences for the international order; Moscows flagrant breach of international law; and growing pressure within Western public opinion to intervene in the conflict. Moreover, there are several levels of alert, ranging from purely administrative to very substantial, such as loading nuclear weapons onto heavy bombers. Russias nuclear rhetoric appears to be primarily a tool of intimidation and blackmail. The Kremlin aims to not only deter the West from directly interfering in its attempts to conquer Ukraine but also to limit Western political, economic, and military support for the country. Nuclear escalation would not occur automatically even in the event of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, as both sides have a vital interest in avoiding such an outcome.