Is Russia responsible for Igniting Fear over a Potential Nuclear War?
President Putin in his speech on the 21 September stated that the West in fact has been using nuclear blackmail against Russia and he made reference to statements made by high-ranking politicians in Western countries regarding the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Russia.
Western media has drawn significant attention to the claim that President Putin has been escalating the Ukraine war and that Russia is willing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, if necessary. This has raised fears across the globe regarding a potential nuclear disaster. One must consider whether the Russian government has actually been igniting fears of nuclear war, or whether this is a false narrative being propagated by the West.
A recent Guardian article quoted President Putin as stating that “This is not a bluff” in reference to Putin’s threat of using nuclear weapons made by the President of Russia. Yet on review of the original transcript of Putin’s address on the 21 of September 2021 (transcript is available on the President of Russia’s website) he states that Russia has different types of weapons and that in the event of a threat to Russia’s territorial integrity Russia will make use of all systems available to it. Putin does not explicitly state that Russia will use nuclear weapons against the West or Ukraine. However, it appears that the media in the West wishes to distort Putin’s words in order to convince the public that his intention is to use nuclear weapons.
The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was also questioned regarding Russia’s potential use of nuclear weapons at a recent UN conference. In his address, he made reference to the State policy of the Russian Federation on nuclear deterrence, exerts of which can be found online. Key fundamentals of this policy include section 4 which states that State Policy on Nuclear Deterrence is defensive by nature. Section 5 reemphasizes this by stating that “The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence, their use being an extreme and compelled measure, and takes all necessary efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and prevent aggravation of interstate relations, that could trigger military conflicts, including nuclear ones.” The legal foundation of these principles is formed on the constitution of the Russian Federation, principles of international law, and international treaties. Russia’s State Policy, therefore, demonstrates that the intention is to use nuclear weapons defensively rather than offensively.
It is important to note that historically speaking the use of nuclear weapons has been used twice in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 by the United States in World War 2. Britain also supported the use of these weapons with British government officials expressing support for the use of weapons at the Combined Policy Committee meeting in Washington on July 4, 1945. It is therefore Western allies that appear to be more eager to use nuclear weapons, rather than Russia if past history is anything to go by.
President Putin in his speech on the 21 September stated that the West in fact has been using nuclear blackmail against Russia and he made reference to statements made by high-ranking politicians in Western countries regarding the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Russia. For instance, Liz Truss remarked that if necessary she would sanction the use of nuclear weapons against Russia. In addition, the French foreign minister warned Putin that the NATO alliance also possesses nuclear weapons. Furthermore, according to a recent Bloomberg article, Joe Biden’s administration has privately told Kremlin officials that the use of any nuclear weapons in Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences for Russia. Yet, given the fact that Russia has not actually threatened to use nuclear weapons and its use of nuclear weapons is essential defensive rather than offensive it is difficult to understand why the Biden administration feels the need to issue such a threat.
This warning to Russia strikes similarities with Saddam Hussein and his apparent possession of WMD. In the case of the 2003 invasion, there was a substantial amount of rhetoric propagated by the West to reinforce the idea that Saddam had WMD which he was going to use at any time. Saddam constantly denied that he ever possessed WMD and this was proven to be correct. Yet, the West used the pretext of WMD in order to launch an attack against Iraq and ultimately remove Saddam from power. Past events make me wonder whether the same is transpiring with Russia and the West. The West may be pushing the narrative that Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine in order to launch a nuclear attack on Russia first. If this is the case, this is an extremely concerning situation globally and should be de-escalated rapidly. This could lead to a global world war 3 and the destruction of the planet.
Clearly, it appears to be unrealistic to assume that nuclear weapons will ever be completely eradicated, especially given the problematic relationships between countries. However, it does seem that for many countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea these weapons are used as a defensive deterrent rather than an offensive weapon. It is crucial that when reporting on the use of these weapons the words of leaders are not misinterpreted and misrepresented as this could lead to further escalation and conflict and worse still nuclear disaster. It should also be emphasized that leaders across the globe should act with prudence and caution when discussing the potential use of nuclear weapons since this could extrapolate ongoing tensions between countries.