By Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon
In an address to his nation in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would use nuclear weapons if Russia’s territorial integrity were threatened.
“This is not a bluff. … Our independence and freedom will be defended—I repeat—by all the systems available to us,” he said.
Most military authorities in the West all but dismiss Putin’s threat, confident that they can corner Putin without risking a nuclear response. “He knows very well that a nuclear war should never be fought and cannot be won,” stated NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
The scenario that the West dismisses would begin with Russia’s use of a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine. The United States would then make good on its high-profile threat of an “overwhelming” retaliation by itself and its NATO allies against the Russian homeland using conventional non-nuclear weapons. That U.S. attack on Russia’s territorial integrity would then trigger Russia’s nuclear weapons doctrine, which calls for Russian nuclear-weapons retaliation against the United States and NATO.