by Shelt Garner
I love to run scenarios, that’s my thing. So, let’s run the following scenario — Putin, frustrated with the lack of progress in the Russo-Ukrainian Winter War, decides to break the nearly 80-year-old taboo against using nuclear weapons. Now, I find it highly unlikely that even bonkers Putin would use a traditional tactical nuke.
More likely, he would use a very small nuke, a low-grade nuke, which would be more like a MOAB with a radioactive footprint than an actual tactical nuke. The question is, if he did it, what would be the consequences?
Given that Ukraine doesn’t have its own nukes and NATO / USA would be extremely reluctant to get involved after such a thing, all that would likely happen is a more extreme version of what’s already going on. The real question is not so much what would happen to Russia, as it is what would happen to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian people have already shown they’re badasses and I think after the initial shock wore off, that things would go from bad to worse for Russian forces attempting to occupy the country. The rage that the general Ukrainian population would feel at even low-grade nukes being used on them would be as white hot as the sun. As such, what Putin might think is his fail safe, would likely only hasten his own demise.
I say that because everyday Russians are just humans like you and me. And any problems Putin face in real terms for using low-grade nukes would likely come from a huge swell of revulsion on their part. That would be the thing that would be Putin’s ultimate punishment for doing something so stupid.
I don’t think Putin would do this nightmarish thing, but it is something to think about. Russians aren’t exactly known for playing nice when they don’t get what they want militarily. So, be prepared for some dark days ahead.
And one last thing — once the taboo about using nukes is broken, there are plenty of other nations that might suddenly think they, too, can use them to solve long-term geopolitical problems. China taking Taiwan is a lot easier if they can do the “love tap” of a few tactical nukes during the invasion process. Don’t get me started about the DPRK and ROK.