It all started a year ago. Between October and November 2021, Vladimir Putin began a troop build-up and military equipment along the Russia-Ukraine border. Over the following months, more forces were amassed in Belarus, and Russia occupied Crimea. By February of 2022, just six months after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, the world watched as Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
The west pledged solidarity with Ukraine, a country not a part of the NATO alliance. They responded by levying heavy sanctions against Russia. Experts believed that Putin planned to seize Kyiv in a matter of days and install a pro-Moscow government. Putin learned over the last 221 days that the people of Ukraine are a more formidable opponent, and the Ukraine President would not go down without a fight.
The Largest European Crisis Since World War II
Vladimir Putin and his Russian soldiers have created the biggest crisis in Europe since World War II. Millions of Ukrainians fled the country because Russia indiscriminately targeted population centers with rocket and artillery strikes. Putin's forces have struck areas known to be civilian bomb shelters and on March 16, 2022, killed as many as 600 people. The building was known to be housing women and children.
After nearly two full months of fighting, the Russians had to withdraw from Irpin and Bucha. Ukrainians uncovered mass graves, and the victims had been subjected to torture and showed other evidence of war crimes.
Russia targeted cultural sites, hospitals, water treatment plants, and civilian infrastructure. It has been called a "brazen" violation of the Geneva Conventions. In other occupied areas, there's been evidence of the looting of civilian homes and businesses.
"In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly use all means available to us."
- Vladimir Putin, Public Statement September 2022
Putin's Nuclear Threat
Vladimir Putin's recent warnings included declaring that he wouldn't hesitate to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory. It is a threat coming as Moscow annexed parts of Ukraine that Moscow took over. The circumstances are different in comparison to his previous threats. The world has watched as Putin and the Russian forces in Ukraine have struggled to maintain momentum.
It's believed the Kremlin orchestrated referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine on Friday. With the vote on whether to become part of Russia going Moscow's way, it put four areas of Ukraine under Russian control. Putin announced the signing of treaties on Friday that made it official under Russian rules. The west has blasted the move as an illegal land grab.
The move by Putin and Russia, along with Ukrainian President Zelensky's signing of an "accelerated" NATO membership application, appears to have put the two countries on a collision course. These events raised fears of a full-blown altercation between Russia and the West.
Russian Troops Retreat From Lyman In Donetsk Region
What the response will be to the Ukraine forces retaking Lyman is yet to be seen but it's believed that the Russian President may use this as a pretext to use nuclear weapons now that Russia sees this area as part of their annexed land grab. Meanwhile, it's been reported that a top aide of Volodymyr Zelensky is reporting that the threat of Russian forces using nuclear weapons is "very high."
Andriy Yermak, head of the office of President Zelensky, wrote an op-ed in the Atlantic on Friday telling that Ukrainian officials do not think that Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons are empty.
"Our intelligence agencies assess the threat of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons use as 'very high.' Russia's willingness to make nuclear threats presents a crisis not just for Ukraine, but for every country on earth," Yermak wrote.
The line in the sand has been drawn and neither side is likely to back down. The people of Ukraine continue to fight. They're fighting for their freedom from the oppressive regime of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. At this point, they're fighting for their right to live.
Nuclear Weapons Use
An ABC news report details Russian military doctrine on atomic weapons.
Russian military doctrine envisages the use of atomic weapons in response to a nuclear attack or aggression involving conventional weapons that "threatens the very existence of the state." It's vague wording that offers ample room for interpretation. The world might feel more comforted if the wording was a bit more precise.
However, under the circumstances, the argument seems clear that Russia has annexed part of Ukraine into its country, and now, Ukraine may be taking back Lyman. With Ukrainian forces surrounding the area and forcing Russian troops to withdraw, is this the act of aggression that Putin's been waiting for to put his stamp permanently on history?
What Happens If He Chooses To Use A Nuclear Weapon
Putin has already set the stage as a war criminal. There should be no doubt that he is willing to use a nuclear weapon. The nuke has been used twice, and it brought about an end to WW II. It's seen as the ultimate act to end a conflict.
"History has called us to a battlefield to fight four our people, for the grand historic Russia, for future generations."
- Vladimir Putin
It would be a historic move to use nuclear weapons as a way of re-establishing the dominance once held by Russia. We have to take the threat to heart, considering it was the US that first used the nuclear weapon and it did give us dominance. The last time nuclear weapons were used was to bring peace back to a world that was suffering from the second world war. This time it could be a more insidious use. Then what?
If Putin uses a nuke it's unlikely that the first response will be a retaliatory strike. However, the world wouldn't be able to just sit and do nothing. The end of sanctions would be upon us as the US and its allies would likely launch devastating attacks on Russian soil.
If Putin gets desperate and does use nuclear weapons, even tactical nuclear weapons, the game will change dramatically. No longer will it be a question of Ukraine not being a formalized member of NATO. The world will come to Ukraine's defense with the combined might of U.S. and NATO forces.
When this happens, how it plays is anyone's guess. However, imagine for a moment that a leader with superior forces is backed down by a smaller country and chooses to use nuclear weapons. What would be Putin's response to an all-out attack on Russia? Right now, like it or not, the future of the world is likely in the hands of the Russian President. Because it will be his actions that determine how the rest of the world responds. Whatever he does, he'll receive an elicited response, and then it'll be back to him again.
The Cost Of Standing With Ukraine
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, currently holds the future of humanity in his hands. It's a scary thought. Standing with Ukraine against the oppression of Putin's Russia was the right thing to do, but to the rest of the world, it may come at a horrifying cost. The world is on the precibus of another world war, nuclear annihilation, and the unimaginable ramifications of facing off with the die-hard Russian leader.
Nothing else has worked with Putin. Sanctions haven't slowed him down enough to make a difference for the better of humanity. All the political posturing in the world isn't going to scare the former KGB hardliner. Before Putin gives an order to use nuclear weapons, perhaps he needs to take a lesson from movie history. He needs to watch War Games, and remember, past the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, there's no way to win once you go down that path.
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About the Creator
I have always enjoyed writing and exploring new ideas, new beliefs, and the dreams that rattle around inside my head. I have enjoyed the current state of science, human progress, fantasy and existence and write about them when I can.