“Theoretically Putin can do almost anything” – a Russian nuclear policy expert assesses the severity of the threat

Since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine Vladimir Putin, as well as various Russian officials, politicians and propagandists regularly threaten the West with nuclear weapons. Sometimes they talk about it directly, sometimes veiled. Putin has thought about this issue again very recently – on September 21, in his statement on “partial mobilization”.

She can really decide on a nuclear attack and what consequences it may have, “Meduza” talks to Maksim Starchak, a Russian nuclear policy expert, research associate at Queens University’s Center for International Policy and Defense in Canada.

Is there a system of checks and balances in place in the world in the event that nuclear weapons fall into the hands of aggressive individuals unwilling to compromise? Is such a system possible?

I would say no. In theory, Putin can do almost anything. The status of a nuclear state opens up a wide field for military impunity.

There is a doctrine of mutually assured destruction. According to this, if one side uses nuclear weapons (NW) against another with an equivalent number of nuclear warheads, a retaliatory attack will occur, meaning that both the attacker and the defender will be completely destroyed.

On this basis, the relationship between the USSR and the United States was built, which is now the basis of military security between the KF and the United States. And even if the parties are not equal in their nuclear potential, the threat of a nuclear attack deters aggression against a nuclear state. Example: USA e North Korea relation.

But it is a question of relations between nuclear powers. But if a nuclear power wants to attack a country that does not have IC, it will be able to do so. Yes, there will be international condemnation, but there are practically no obstacles.

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