Putin: You know, this would be the perfect time for some nuclear weapons drills

Putin: You know, this would be the perfect time for some nuclear weapons drills
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

With diplomatic meetings taking place this weekend in Ukraine and Russia, along with several European capitals, it would be a bit of an understatement to say that tensions are running high. Vice President Kamala Harris is over there holding meetings to discuss the situation on the Ukrainian border (apparently having some free time on her hands now that she’s solved the border crisis and gotten the “voting rights” bills passed). Ukrainian President Zelensky also bailed out of his own country to attend meetings in Munich, perhaps sensing that it might be a good time to clear out of Dodge. But I’m sure that Vladimir Putin can think of a way to calm everyone down and get back to good old-fashioned diplomacy. Say, here’s an idea. What if he just runs a bunch of nuclear weapons drills? Well, that’s just perfect. (NBC News)

Pro-Russian separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine ordered a full military mobilization Saturday, amid a spike in violence that has heightened fears that Moscow is planning to use an escalation in the conflict as a pretext to invade.

The announcements came ahead of planned large-scale drills involving Russian nuclear forces, overseen by President Vladimir Putin, offering a timely reminder of the country’s nuclear might, as Europe faces its gravest security crisis since the Cold War. Ballistic and cruise missiles were launched from land, air and sea the Kremlin said in a statement Saturday.

In eastern Ukraine, where the Moscow-supported separatists have been fighting government forces since 2014, Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” urged reservists to show up at military enlistment offices in a video released on the chat app Telegram on Saturday.

Yes, the Russians spent the morning firing off both ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Of course, they weren’t firing them at anyone. (At least not yet.) At the same time, Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk region (which they have apparently declared to be the “Donetsk People’s Republic”) were firing off some shells and urging their followers to “enlist” in their own militia. So this all adds up to match Putin’s recent claims that he’s pulling his troops back and de-escalating, right?

On Thursday, Allahpundit seemed to conclude that if Russia isn’t actually planning a full-scale invasion of its neighbor, they’re currently doing everything imaginable to make it look like they are. I’m still not 100% convinced that’s the case. I have no doubt that Putin is planning to do something, and in fact, he already has, in the form of some massive cyberattacks. (Oh, sorry. I think we’re supposed to say that the attacks came from non-state hacking teams of teenagers or something.)

It would also clearly serve Putin’s purposes for the fighting in eastern Ukraine to heat up significantly. That sort of move strengthens his presence in the region and undermines the stability of the government in Kyiv. The only thing better for Putin than an invasion would be for Ukraine’s government to collapse on its own through infighting.

It’s hard to see the nuclear weapons drills as anything other than a deliberate provocation of NATO and the west on Putin’s part. He’s already made suggestions that he might have to send missiles toward European capitals if the conflict between Russia and NATO grew too direct and spilled over into military action. This was clearly a reminder that Russia isn’t Afghanistan or Iraq. Putin sits on the largest inventory of tactical weapons on the planet. And if he’s really just lost his mind (as some have come to suspect), he might be willing to use them.

Personally, I’m not in the camp of those who believe that Vladimir Putin has totally lost his marbles and is acting irrationally. He may be crazy, but he’s crazy like a fox. We’ve managed to get by for a very long time living under the Mutually Assured Destruction policy. Nobody wants to be the one to fire the first nuke in anger. We no doubt have enough boomers in the region to rain down a massive number of warheads on Moscow if he starts anything, and Putin knows it.

But if he launches a conventional invasion of Ukraine, he’s going to face severe economic punishment across the board, which would likely erode his support among his own people. If nothing changes significantly in the next few days, I won’t be surprised if the eastern portion of Ukraine falls apart and Putin cheers on the separatists and sends them military and economic aid. But I’ll be shocked if any Russian tanks actually roll into Kyiv. That’s not to say it won’t happen. I’ve been wrong before. But I’d like to think there’s still at least a bit of sanity remaining in that part of the world.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Video