Putin flexes nuclear muscles

Even if he were driving a mobile ballistic missile launcher through Red Square, Vladimir Putin’s display of his nuclear arsenal could hardly be more obvious.

Less than a week before the beginning of his invasion of Ukraine, he had personally supervised a Russian nuclear exercise and on Sunday ordered his nuclear forces to high alert. 

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a clear statement on Wednesday that if a third world war occurs, it will be nuclear in nature.

However, a nuclear conflict won’t inevitably lead to World War III – and that could work in the Russians’ favor. Even if Putin ever does go nuclear, he will likely authorize the limited use of smaller, non-strategic nuclear weapons, either in desperation if the Ukraine invasion continues to sour or against NATO in some future confrontation.

It may not be possible to end the world with such non-strategic nukes, but they may be able to end a battle – or even a war – by destroying 160 tanks in an armored division, for example.

As a result of having more tactical nuclear weapons than all of its rivals, including the United States, Russia may be more inclined to take such a step.

The American government must address this imbalance immediately.

But I fear we will be too embroiled in gender studies, climate change, and Congress taking the weekend off to give this much attention.

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