Nuclear Weapon: Washington Chooses to Ignore Putin’s Threats

By mobilizing 40 countries and allocating a budget of 33 billion to Ukraine, Washington chooses to ignore Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons and confronts Moscow in an increasingly less veiled way, apparently unafraid of bringing the Russian president to a standstill. to push to the limit.

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The day after a Washington-hosted meeting in Ramstein, Germany, to rally some 40 countries’ support for Ukraine, Putin on Wednesday promised a “quick and lightning-fast” response in the event of external intervention in the dispute.

The Russian president called “those tools that no one else can now boast of,” a thinly veiled allusion to the tactical nuclear weapon, which Russian military doctrine envisions to use to force an adversary to retreat.

Far from flinching, Joe Biden responded the next day by asking Congress for a whopping $33 billion budget extension, 20 billion of which should go to armaments, that is, nearly seven times more than the nevertheless impressive amounts of weapons. and ammunition already delivered to Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24.

The US government is now supplying Kiev with heavy weapons, such as artillery, helicopters and drones, after long hesitating to do so for fear of spreading the conflict to other NATO countries.

Those concerns seem to have subsided in Washington, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday set his sights on “seeing Russia so weakened that it can’t do the same sort of thing as invading Ukraine” after returning from a visit to Kiev.

Within the US administration, the nuclear threat from Russia has now been brushed aside.

Joe Biden thus denounced Vladimir Putin’s “irresponsible” threats on Thursday, ruling that they “demonstrated the sense of despair felt by Russia, faced with its miserable failure toward its original goals”.

And on Friday, a senior Pentagon official said Washington “does not believe there is a risk of using nuclear weapons or threatens NATO territory.”

According to Lawrence Freedman, professor emeritus at King’s College London, the various threats from Russia are “taken less seriously than before”. “It’s already a diminished power,” he adds on his blog.

Conclusions shared by Gideon Rose, of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “Moscow will not use nuclear weapons during the conflict,” he told Foreign Affairs magazine.

Vladimir Putin “knows that extraordinary reprisals and universal disgrace would follow, without any strategic advantage to justify them, not to mention that the radioactive effects this would cause could easily fall on Russia,” he added. ready.

While Mr Biden claims the United States is “not attacking Russia,” Washington has just accelerated the delivery of military equipment to Ukraine and is now openly training Ukrainian soldiers in US heavy weapons, after doing so discreetly.

The conflict therefore takes on all appearances of a “proxy war” against Moscow, through the intervention of the Ukrainians, notes Sam Winter-Levy of Princeton University on the specialist blog War on the Rocks.

This kind of proxy war, like the one between Saudi Arabia and Iran via the Houthi rebels in Yemen, “is the worst possible outcome” because it carries a risk of escalation and this kind of war generally lasts a long time, estimates this expert who also cooperates with the United States Military Academy at West Point.

But “it may be the best possible option” because Westerners “have no choice,” he adds. “Ultimately, the only options worse than a proxy war are a cheap Russian victory in Ukraine, or a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia.”

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