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An ex-CIA analyst has warned it is “very possible” that Vladimir Putin could order a nuclear strike against a NATO country as the war in Ukraine continues.
Speaking in an opinion article written for Foreign Affairs published on Wednesday, Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst Peter Schroeder said nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used by Russia in Ukraine, but a strike on a NATO target could be a real possibility.
He wrote: “It is actually quite unlikely that [Putin] will use a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine, but it is very possible that he will move toward using one against NATO.
“Unlike the West, Putin may not fear a nuclear standoff … and possibly sees himself as uniquely suited to navigating a nuclear crisis.
“If Putin does escalate the war, for instance by attacking NATO with conventional weapons, he will likely move very swiftly, so as not to give the United States a chance to maneuver away from a crisis.
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“Washington will struggle to deter a Kremlin so emboldened.”
Schroeder also suggested that due to US officials becoming complacent there is a growing “misunderstanding of Putin’s rhetoric and the dynamics that keep Moscow from using nuclear weapons”.
The Russian leader claimed earlier this week that Moscow’s efforts to modernise its nuclear arsenal are “95 percent” complete.
Speaking in a meeting with Russian defence officials, he said the importance of Russia’s nuclear weapons had “increased significantly” given the “emergence of new military-political risks”.
He also insisted Russia is winning its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which will reach the two-year mark in February 2024, claiming Kyiv is “suffering heavy losses and has largely squandered its reserves.”
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While Putin has continued on his path of nuclear alarmism, Schroeder suggested that US officials attempt to empower “Russian officials who want to obstruct any effort by Putin to go nuclear.”
He continued: “The United States must also persuade Russian officials that there are paths out of Ukraine that do not end in either victory or a humiliating defeat.
“They must simultaneously rally neutral states to pressure Moscow away from escalation.
“Nuclear brinkmanship is a dangerous game, particularly with an authoritarian leader such as Putin. This is no time for complacency.”
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