Putin makes huge mistake as nuclear threat to UK BACKFIRES: ‘Numbing effect’

Russia TV host says 'everything will be destroyed in nuclear strike'

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With the war in Ukraine now exceeding 100 days, international condemnation has flooded in against Moscow and its brutal assault on Ukraine. With diplomacy all but exhausted, thinly veiled threats of nuclear weapons being used have circulated on Russian media, with Putin’s mouthpieces staging elaborate models of how many missiles would be needed to destroy western allies.

Yet a damming report surrounding Putin’s highly provocative stance on nuclear weapons suggests the Kremlin’s bark may be worse than its bite.

The notion of “nuclear rocket diplomacy” is nothing new in global politics.

In fact, the threat of nuclear weapon use ironically maintained peace during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.

Yet for Putin, critics suggest his use of threats is nothing more than the boy who cried wolf, as audiences targeted by the threats become accustomed to Moscow’s cries of nuclear war.

Defence and Political experts Lawrence Korb and Stephen Cimbala argue: “Russia’s overreliance on nuclear threats may lead to an eventual numbing effect on the part of listeners.

“As the frequency of threats increases, they become part of the accepted rhetorical and policy backdrop to military events.

“Russia’s nuclear arsenal is the world’s largest.

“The last thing Russia’s government should want to do is to use nuclear weapons as a stage prop for diplomatic detours into absurdity, given the fact that the United States has almost as many nuclear weapons as Russia and both the United Kingdom and France are nuclear powers.“

Threats made against the UK by Russian state media have stoked tensions between London and Moscow, with Britain’s nuclear deterrence programme, Trident, no doubt on high alert.

Russia’s threats also defy the official doctrine of Kremlin protocol.

It states Russia will only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear or other attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against Russia or an ally; or in the event of an invasion of Russia by conventional armed forces that threatens the very survival of the state.

On a wider scale, Russia’s continual use of nuclear threats could be seen as a bad example to other nuclear-armed states, in particular, those not aligned with global protocols and agreements.

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Mr’s Korb and Cimbala state: “If other states conclude that Russia succeeded in deterring Ukraine or NATO by nuclear coercive diplomacy, they may be more willing to escalate their own nuclear rhetoric, or to resort to nuclear first use, in future crises.

“One of the features of the new international system of the 21st century is that the armed forces of new or rising nuclear powers such as China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are supported by technologically advanced conventional forces and command-and-control systems.

“This raises the possibility of nuclear war fought within the context of a conventional war of high-tech weapons and fast-moving operations over which leaders have lost control.

“Hypersonic weapons and massive drone strikes are two examples of technologies that could destabilize the conventional battlefield since they can be fired from distances a thousand miles away and prompt nuclear escalation.”

Follow Defence and Security Correspondent James Lee on Twitter by using the handle @JamesLee_DE

Finally, there is the notion of a nuclear arms race.

Mr Korb and Mr Cimbala, writing for “Just Security” state: “States that feel threatened by regional adversaries that already possess nukes could decide that even a small nuclear arsenal can provide a great deal of deterrence in an uncertain world.”

Such an arms race could be seen in global hotspots, such as Australia in the Indo-Pacific region, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Persian Gulf area, and South Korea responding in kind to Pyongyang on the Korean peninsula.

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