Based on the current situation, there is even less likelihood of Russian nuclear strikes against NATO member states, despite the Russian mass media’s rhetoric. At the beginning of the armed conflict, Vladimir Putin threatened unprecedented consequences for attempts to intervene from abroad. This warning had an impact, strengthening the position of Western officials who were against direct military involvement. Meanwhile, allied and non-allied countries have found ways to provide significant military and economic assistance to Ukraine without sending their troops.
On the one hand, the Russian side should be satisfied; after all, no NATO troops have been sent to Ukraine. On the other hand, the prospects for Russia’s military campaign are dimmer as the foreign aid flooding into Ukraine either maintains or improves its military capabilities. It is unclear what role Russia’s nuclear weapons could play other than deterring NATO’s direct military intervention.
Clearly, as long as they play a deterrent role, Western countries will remain careful not to provoke a nuclear escalation. If Russia were to follow the irresponsible calls by some in the Russian media and launch a nuclear strike against a NATO country, nuclear weapons would turn from a deterrent into a means of active fighting. In addition the “special operation” status of the conflict does not give grounds for aggression against third countries, especially with nuclear weapons.