American experts assessed three options for a nuclear war against Russia

Yuriy Zhdanov: “They, like sadomasochists, just dream about it”

American experts are surprised to think that the United States, by supporting Ukraine, has themselves come to a dangerous threshold, followed by nuclear war. They began to seriously discuss how they could avoid this conflict, and work out possible scenarios for the development of the situation. President of the All-Russian Police Association, Lieutenant-General, Doctor of Law, Honored Lawyer of Russia, Professor Yuri Zhdanov told how US analysts intend to act if a nuclear war breaks out tomorrow.


– It seems that they, as sadomasochists, just dream about it. Thus, on July 4, Foreign Affairs published an article by Columbia University professor, member of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard C. Betts, “Thinking the Unthinkable in Ukraine.”

By the way, let me remind you that back in 1945 Churchill proposed a plan for a nuclear war against the Soviet Union under the code “Unthinkable”. At the same time, he proposed arming the captured Germans with their own weapons, forming new divisions from them and sending them against us. And drop American atomic bombs on our cities. And now they again remembered the “unthinkable”.

– Well, why so rudely? They, like true gentlemen, give us the first shot.

– Rather, they make a good face on a bad game. Betts writes that “the danger would be the greatest” if the conflict turned decisively in favor of Ukraine. “This,” the American expert continues, “is the only situation in which an incentive for the Russians to take this monstrous risk would be plausible in an attempt to prevent defeat by shocking Ukraine and its NATO supporters into leaving. The Russians can do this by launching one or more tactical nuclear warheads against Ukrainian forces, or by setting off a symbolic explosion over empty territory.”

That is, from the point of view of an American author, it's just a blessing that Russia's military operations in Ukraine are so successful, otherwise these evil Russians, in desperation, would use special ammunition.

– So you really want to dream! And they dream. Betts lists three broad options under which US policymakers should seek answers to a hypothetical Russian nuclear attack in Ukraine.

First. The United States could rhetorically condemn a nuclear explosion but do nothing militarily.

Second. The US may use its own nuclear weapons.

Third. Refrain from a nuclear counterattack, but engage directly in the conflict by launching large-scale conventional airstrikes and mobilizing ground forces.

But all of these alternatives are bad, Betts writes, because there are no low-risk options to deal with ending the nuclear taboo. At the same time, Betts thoughtfully believes that the third option for responding to a Moscow nuclear strike is the least bad of the three, because it avoids the higher risks of both the weaker and stronger options.

– For American analysts with their mess in their heads is the norm. But here it is necessary to remember the history of the issue. And Richard Betts remembers her. For the past three decades, American policy makers have paid little attention to the potential dynamics of nuclear escalation, he said.

During the Cold War, by contrast, this issue was at the center of the strategic debate. At that time, it was NATO that relied in principle on the option of deliberate escalation, starting with the limited use of tactical nuclear weapons as a way to stop the “Soviet invasion”. This strategy was controversial, but it was adopted because the West believed that its conventional forces were inferior to those of the Warsaw Pact. Today, with the balance of power shifted, Russia's current “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine mimics NATO's Cold War “flexible response” concept.

NATO promoted a policy of flexible response rhetorically, but strategically this idea has always been shaky. The actual contingency plans that the Alliance developed never generated consensus, simply because the use of nuclear weapons risked a tit-for-tat exchange that could culminate in an apocalyptic unrestricted war. As J. Michael Legge, a former member of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, noted in a 1983 study for the RAND Corporation, the group failed to reach an agreement out of fear that Moscow could always catch up or raise the stakes. Today, there is hope that this old dilemma will keep Moscow from releasing a “nuclear genie” in the first place.

But Betts says NATO policymakers should not rely on Moscow's restraint in the first place.

– Of course not! “Red lines” are set only by them. Betts writes that “as NATO faces the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons, the first question it must answer is whether this possibility should represent a real red line for the West. In other words, will a Russian nuclear attack cause NATO to move from simply supplying Ukraine to directly participating in hostilities? The motive for Russia's use of tactical nuclear weapons could be either to scare NATO away from crossing this line or to force Ukraine to capitulate. If a few Russian nuclear strikes do not provoke the United States into direct combat, Moscow will have the green light to use more of these weapons and quickly overwhelm Ukraine.”

The American expert continues: “If the challenge, which is now only hypothetical, really arises, entering into a nuclear war could easily appear to the Americans as an experiment that they do not want to carry out. For this reason, there is a very real possibility that politicians will come up with the weakest option: rant about the unthinkable barbarism of Russia's actions and apply whatever untapped economic sanctions that are still available, but do nothing militarily. This would mean that Moscow has complete freedom of action militarily, including the further use of nuclear weapons to destroy the Ukrainian defense, which, in essence, means the recognition of the victory of Russia.”

– Almost according to Saltykov-Shchedrin: what I wanted something – either a constitution, or a stellate sturgeon with horseradish, or I would take and skin someone.

But Betts draws a surprising conclusion: if the Kremlin's victory does come, it will have great attraction for Americans, because it will avoid the ultimate risk of national suicide: “Nuclear war can easily hit the Americans as an experiment they don't want to carry out.”


According to the American expert, this prospect “should be balanced by longer-term risks that may arise as a result of creating an epoch-making precedent when a nuclear attack pays off. If the West is not going to back down—or, more importantly, if it wants to keep Putin from the nuclear gambit in the first place—governments should make it as plausible as possible that Russia's use of nuclear weapons will provoke NATO, not intimidate it.

If NATO decides that it will strike back on behalf of Ukraine, then more questions will arise: whether to use nuclear weapons as well, and if so, how. The most common representation is that of a tit-for-tat nuclear counterattack destroying Russian targets comparable to those targeted by the original Russian attack. This is an option that arises intuitively, but it is unattractive because it involves a slow exchange of views in which neither side gives up and in the end both are devastated.

“Alternatively,” Betts argues, “Washington could retaliate with nuclear strikes on a larger scale than Russia's first use, threatening Moscow with disproportionate losses if it attempts to continue limited nuclear attacks.”

These rants similar to a split personality.

– What are you, this is what the calculation is based on! True, Betts regrets that there are several problems in this case.

First, in his opinion, if US nuclear weapons are used against Russian troops in Ukraine, they will cause collateral damage to their clients. This is not a new problem. During the Cold War, strategists who criticized the use of tactical nuclear weapons to counter invading Soviet troops quipped, “There are only two kilotons between cities in Germany.” At the same time, the use of nuclear weapons against targets inside Russia will increase the danger of unleashing an unlimited war.

Second, the problem with back-and-forth tactical nuclear strikes is that Russia would have an advantage because it has more tactical nuclear weapons than the United States. This asymmetry will require US policymakers to quickly resort to strategic forces – intercontinental missiles or bombers – to maintain an advantage. This, in turn, can lead to the total mutual destruction of major powers. Thus, both tit-for-tat and disproportionate retaliation carry frighteningly high risks.

A less dangerous option, according to Betts, would be to respond to a nuclear attack by launching an air campaign using only conventional munitions against Russian military installations and mobilizing ground forces for a possible deployment in the battle in Ukraine. This will be accompanied, Betts believes, by two strong public statements.

First, in order to weaken the view of this low-level option as weak, NATO politicians would emphasize that modern precision technologies make tactical nuclear weapons unnecessary for effective target destruction. , which were previously considered vulnerable only to indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.

This would present Russia's turn to nuclear strikes as further evidence of “its military backwardness,” argues the author of the Foreign Affairs article.

Direct entry into the conflict at the usual level would not neutralize the panic in the West. But that would mean Russia would face a prospect of hostilities against NATO that vastly outnumbers non-nuclear forces, is backed by a nuclear retaliation capability, and is less likely to remain contained if Russia directs its nuclear strikes at U.S. forces rather than Ukrainian forces.

The second important signal is that any subsequent use of nuclear weapons by Russia will trigger an American retaliatory nuclear strike.

This is what they like to think. It was no coincidence that they called the place of their meetings the Capitol: they say, they are civilized Rome, and all around are barbarians. However, at the same time, they very vaguely remember how it all ended.

Here Betts regrets that “a direct war between the major powers, which began at any level, runs the risk of degenerating into mass destruction. Such a strategy would appear weaker than in-kind retaliation and exacerbate rather than ease the Russians' desperation for losing, thus leaving their original motive for escalation and the possibility that they would redouble their efforts and use even more nuclear weapons. weapons. This would make it necessary to combine a NATO military response with a settlement offer that would include as many cosmetic concessions as possible to give Russia some semblance of peace with honor. The main advantage of the conventional option is simply that it will not be as risky as the weaker option of inaction or the stronger nuclear option. bed.

– According to Betts, in the event of a Russian nuclear strike, NATO will have two conflicting tasks. “On the one hand, the Alliance will want to negate any strategic advantage that Moscow could get from a strike. On the other hand, he will want to avoid further escalation.

To that end, NATO must not only pose a credible threat of retaliation but also seek support from third parties that Putin wants to keep from joining the Western opposition. Until now, Moscow has been supported by the refusal of China, India and other countries to fully join the campaign of economic sanctions imposed by the West. However, these “fence watchers” have an interest in maintaining the nuclear taboo. They can be persuaded, declared that their further economic cooperation with Russia depends on its renunciation of the use of nuclear weapons. As a statement of a still hypothetical possibility, neutral countries might see this as an inexpensive gesture, a way to keep the West off their backs, tackling a situation they don't expect,” hopes Betts.

– Frankly speaking, It doesn't fit with anything at all, especially with common sense. Henry Kissinger, who is by no means a Russophile, urged Kyiv to sacrifice part of the territory in order to organize at least some negotiations that could prevent a nuclear catastrophe. But – no, the current American curators of Ukraine continue to pump up the Armed Forces of Ukraine with their weapons – which leads to the threat of a nuclear conflict. And they talk amateurishly about the art of war. I recommend re-reading “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy: “What is the art of war? The art of being stronger than the enemy at a certain moment. That's all”. And we are stronger!


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