How should the West respond to Ukraine? One rule: We cannot be afraid (of Putin/nukes)
From Anne Applebaum (who knows way more about Eastern European politics than you or I do) writing in the Atlantic:
How should the West respond? There is only one rule: We cannot be afraid. Russia wants us to be afraidso afraid that we are crippled by fear, that we cannot make decisions, that we withdraw altogether, leaving the way open for a Russian conquest of Ukraine, and eventually of Poland or even further into Europe. Putin remembers very well an era when Soviet troops controlled the eastern half of Germany. But the threat to those countries will not decrease if Russia carries out massacres in Ukraine. It will grow.
Instead of fear, we should focus on a Ukrainian victory. Once we understand that this is the goal, then we can think about how to achieve it, whether through temporary boycotts of Russian gas, oil, and coal; military exercises elsewhere in the world that will distract Russian troops; humanitarian airlifts on the scale of 1948 Berlin; or more and better weapons.
The specific tactics will be determined by those who best understand diplomacy and military strategy. But the strategy has to be clear. A month ago, nobody believed this war would matter so much, and Im sure many people wish it did not. But it does. Thats why every move we make must have a single goal: How does it help Ukraine win?
Its not our war was something we might have been able to say three weeks ago. Not now.
More at link, expanding on Applebaums compelling argument.
Members on the continent are worried about a nuclear threat, they more than anyone else understand they cannot be bullied into backing down because yes, it would embolden him to press further.
I would imagine this will be the topic of discussion this week in Brussels
that would most likely be the end of Russia as it exists today.
More problematic would be if Putin decides to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
But if that happens, I think here too the consequences would be unlike anything we've seen thus far. A nuclear attack on a major Ukrainian city would mean tens or hundreds of thousands dead, possibly more than a million severely injured.
A scenario like that would also have the most serious consequences. For one thing, it would demonstrate that Putin and his enablers are truly beyond the pale, and capable of anything. In that case the prospect of a pre-emptive strike against the Russian nuclear stockpile might no longer be unimaginable.
Remember, the British and French also have nuclear arsenals, and they don't necessarily need US support or approval to use them.
Putin has 2000 tactical nukes compared to 100-200 NATO tactical nukes combined.
Things are more equal with strategic (ICBM) nukes, if you include the US.
As the article says, fear cannot be the guiding emotion in the wests handling of Putin; so far, fear is clearly limiting the wests response,
Like it or not... there's been a "deal" between the superpowers to allow them to have their wars with minimal intrusion by the other superpowers since WW2.
Putin had only been in power for a few years when the US invaded Iraq, so that may be why he hesitated.
Like it or not, people of conscience are called upon to rise up against fascism and genocide regardless of the potential risks.
Sanctions, American guns, missiles and bullets, international pressure and isolation... these aren't enough for the hawks, maybe, but they are impactful.
This is from a DU post of several days ago:
"The original Fat Man and Little Boy had initiators made of beryllium-9 and polonium-210 (yep, Vlad's favorite tea variety). The Polonium has a half-life of 140 days so within a year it becomes ineffective and the bomb must be dismantled to replace the initiator. This technique hasn't been used since the 1960's.
Modern bombs have more durable initiators but another weakness; to make them small enough to fly they are "miniaturized" by boosting them with Tritium gas. Tritium has a half-life of 12 years. It's a closely guarded secret just how often these bombs need to be "recharged" but there's little chance it's less than 20 year intervals, and I've heard several sources claim they know it's every 10. Let the Tritium decay and the miniaturized trigger will not fission because without the tritium it's not a critical mass, and the whole thing just becomes a modest conventional explosion with some (not even really very much because the whole point is to make it smaller) nuclear material to scatter.
The replacement nuclear material and maintenance is not cheap. The US shut down its only reactor capable of making useful quantities of Tritium years ago because it was very old and didn't have a modern containment structure; we've been carefully refining and shepherding what's left ever since, which is practical since we've been reducing the number of bombs in the arsenal. If this maintenance has not been kept up, then NONE of Russia's nuclear weapons will function. And it's not like a gradual degradation of function; it's all or nothing whether there is enough undecayed tritium left in the bomb casing to make the reduced fission core critical on implosion.
This is also why it wouldn't have been practical for Ukraine to "keep the nukes." They do not have the infrastructure to perform this service, even if they had the other infrastructure to maintain, program the guidance systems, and launch the missiles."
There's no way to be sure of course, but this presents an interesting possibility, that "none of Russia's nuclear weapons" will actually function if used.
And 200 working tactical nukes would be more than enough to destroy any Russian military formations west of the Volga. Not that I would want anything like this to happen, of course, but the Russian generals have to know this sort of escalation can have no good end.
there can be no "destroying Russia" without planetary extinction.
Pre-emptive strike vs Russian arsenal?
You mean the dozens of submarines that carries hundreds of warheads?
There IS NO easy way to win.
Once it starts, it's lights out.
The west must find the courage to challenge Putin (and really his generals and inner circle) to force him to answer the question is this war in Ukraine worth ME, and everyone I know and care about, dying?
If the question isnt forced upon Russia over Ukraine, then Putin will continue to act with impunity until NATO forces him to answer the question.
As it stands, if NATO is too scared of Putins nukes to defend Ukraine, they sure as hell wont defend the Baltics, and Article Five will be shown to be meaningless, and NATO will crumble.
Admittedly, these are all horrific scenarios.
But the question was asked, what if Russia uses nukes? If that happens, we may well be at the end of all our ropes.
Unfortunately, it's Putin who will have the final say on all this., barring a July 20 style plot.
Not a very cheerful state of affairs.
Our current assistance appears to be working well.
I support President Biden and his assurance that we're not going to start WW3.
So put your money where your mouth is. If she needs to "suit up" to express an opinion, then you need to suit up to stop her from expressing an opinion.
Go save the world from the people who want to stop Putin. There's an awful lot of them around.
I simply said... President Biden has it right.
Maximum pressure, politically, financially and militarily without getting us into WW3.
You understand that, right?
Do you believe that she believes that her "suiting up" and going to Ukraine would somehow stop Putin?
The only things we haven't done involve Americans killing Russians directly or would start WW3.
Even her definition of victory in Ukraine would require military intervention.
She's sly to avoid saying that directly.
Very fanciful of you, but okay.
when one realizes their own tail is on the line... they frequently become less hawkish.
In person I'd ask her if she felt the same way during Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.
I'm sure she pushed for international force to stop those wars, right?
Perhaps an OBL take out of Putin alone would help. Or is he backed up by other crazies?
If you are in the African Savannah and spot a lion, crouching in the brush, looking at you, You would be smart to be afraid. If the lion is a mile away, you should not panic and freeze, but you should start making a plan of escape and start moving cautiously away form the lion, to safety.
If you are looking at a picture of a lion and are afraid, then that is a different problem.
I have a hard time thinking the President Biden is actually afraid of Putin. Nor is NATO, especially after Russia's current showing. What they are is cautious about the implications for the global economy, to enter into any kind of direct conflict with Russia. Our leaders understand MAD. What is harder to predict is how a cornered and defeated Russia will react and of other actors (China) will respond if they see a NATO or American led hegemony emerging.