Last week, the White House signed off on another $800 million in arms shipments to Ukraine. At this point, everyone is shipping weapons and supplies to the Ukrainians on such a regular basis that the latest delivery barely merited a mention in the media. But this latest shipment included some fairly heavy military muscle, including Soviet-era Mi-17 attack helicopters. And while the western press didn’t get that excited about it, Russia certainly noticed. Last week, the Russian embassy in Washington sent a note to the State Department following the announcement, warning that such shipments could result in “unpredictable consequences.” It shouldn’t require too much reading between the lines to figure out what that means. Putin is still threatening to unleash his nuclear arsenal. (NY Post)
Russia’s embassy in Washington warned the State Department this week that continued shipments of weapons to Ukraine from the US and NATO could cause “unpredictable consequences” as Moscow’s weeks-long invasion of its western neighbor rages on, according to multiple reports.
The diplomatic note, dated Tuesday, was delivered in the same week that President Biden announced $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine, including heavy weapons and Soviet-made Mi-17 helicopters.
In the document, a copy of which was reviewed by the Washington Post, Russia called on the US and its allies “to stop the irresponsible militarisation [sic] of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security.”
The rest of the note was just as chaotic as the initial, thinly veiled threat. The Russians are accusing the United States of risking the danger of precision weapons falling into the hands of “radical nationalists, extremists and bandit forces in Ukraine.” The Kremlin similarly accused NATO of purposefully hindering peace negotiations in an effort to “continue the bloodshed.” I don’t suppose anyone at the State Department bothered to point out to the Russians the fact that there wouldn’t be any bloodshed if they hadn’t chosen to invade their neighbors.
So is Putin serious? We’ve discussed this here in the past and it’s still impossible to rule out the possibility entirely. Putin clearly appears to be very unstable at this point and his military commanders seem to still be following his orders. If he cuts loose the launch codes, there’s a very good chance that his commands would be followed and the keys would be turned.
But what then? You might imagine that if there is any hard, red line in the sand for Joe Biden and NATO it would be the detonation of a nuke, right? But I’m not so sure of that at this point. It would probably depend on what, if anything, was hit by the bomb. Similar to the way the White House promised Putin that there would be no military response as long as he didn’t attack any NATO countries, it’s hard to predict what Biden would do if Russia detonated an airburst over the sea as a radical scare tactic. What if he lit one off high in the atmosphere over Ukraine so the only real danger would be the radioactive fallout below? Would Putin have to actually nuke a city before the west responds?
By contrast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sounds as if he’s definitely taking Putin seriously. He is once again telling the world to prepare for nuclear war at any time now.
President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the world should “prepare” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons in his invasion of Ukraine – and urged air-raid shelters and anti-radiation medicine to be readied for the potential calamity.
In an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, Zelensky was asked whether Putin would deploy chemical or nuclear tactical weapons to further his military goals in Ukraine.
“Not only me – all of the world, all of the countries have to be worried because it can be not real information, but it can be truth,” Zelensky told host Jake Tapper in an interview from his presidential office in Kyiv.
In some ways, Zelensky might see a Russian nuke going off as the best thing that could happen to his country. I don’t say this to be trite, but we should be honest about how this entire thing has played out thus far. Zelensky has been trying everything imaginable to drag the western nations into this war from the beginning. He continues to ask for a no-fly zone while it’s obvious that such a move by any foreign nation would almost certainly escalate the war. And there has to be a limit as to how long Ukraine can hold out, at least in the eastern regions of the country.
The sanctions aren’t stopping Russia, at least for the time being. The arms shipments to the Ukrainians aren’t stopping them. The hope that Putin’s own people would rise up against him seems to have been dashed since his popularity ratings at home are currently through the roof. We may have to resign ourselves to the possibility that this war could stretch on for a very long time. Of course, one nuke could change everything in a matter of minutes.
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