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The Big Bluff

Oct 20, 2022 | Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

The biggest fear that most of us in the Western free world have about the current brutal war in Ukraine, is that it may escalate into a nuclear confrontation that might destroy us all. Putin has threatened on many occasions since the war began that he was prepared to use his large stocks of nuclear weapons if the West crossed any of his vaguely defined “red lines”. This nuclear saber rattling has served him well in that many of Ukraine’s allies have been reluctant to provide Ukraine with the type and quantity of weaponry and support that it needs to defeat this amoral bully. They are afraid to call his bluff. But should they be?

It is my considered opinion that these histrionic threats are nothing but an empty bluff. Putin and the Russians do indeed have the potential to start a horrendously destructive nuclear war, but it is highly unlikely that things would ever get to that stage. There are many well-founded reasons to believe this is so.

First and foremost, and contrary to what many people think, there is no single “button” for Putin to push that would send waves of intercontinental nuclear armed missiles hurtling toward the major cities and countries of Europe, North America and all the rest of the world that Putin so despises. Putin might indeed give an order to start such a nuclear conflagration, but for that to be implemented, there is a multi-step process involving complex chains of command and authorizations involving many individuals, any of whom could bring the process to a dead stop.

Those in command of the nuclear arsenal are amongst the best trained and most capable of the Russian military, and they know the consequences of a nuclear war in quite some detail. What they undoubtedly all know for sure, is that such a war would in effect be an assured act of suicide that would destroy Russia utterly and kill most of its population. They know very well what the combined nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and NATO are capable of. These individuals are also human with families, wives, children and hopes and aspirations. Even if Putin was willing in his delusional state of mind to start a nuclear war to soothe his ego and die in the process, it is highly doubtful that all these other cogs in Russia’s nuclear war machine would be willing to follow through on such a self-destructive path.

Secondly, it is quite obvious to not only me, but to many military as well as psychological experts, that Putin is not quite ready to die yet, that he in fact, has a very strong desire to live. I am sure that many of us have seen those pictures of Putin meeting with his generals and inner circle, where he is at one end of an unusually long table, while the rest of the attendees are seated twenty, thirty feet away. What does that tell you? It says that he is taking extraordinary precautions to keep any potential threats and assassins at a distance. There are many reports of Putin taking extreme precautions to not catch COVID. It is also said that whenever he travels, he is accompanied by a large contingent of doctors and medical specialists. All this is an unmistakable indication that Putin has a strong desire to keep living.

With his past knowledge and experience as a high-ranking intelligence officer, he is fully aware that a nuclear war would insure his own personal doom. He may be more than willing to have other people die to achieve his goals, but I am pretty sure he would draw the line when and if it came to sacrificing his own life.

I have no doubt that President Biden and leaders of the NATO countries have made it quite clear to not only Putin, but also to all his highest ranking military leaders that the use of nuclear weapons would insure their utter destruction. Although both sides have so far in public been quite vague as to what would cause them to go nuclear, I am sure that behind the scenes and through existing back channels, there is no such ambiguity.

Remember how just after the so-called “referendums” on annexing Ukrainian territories, Putin stated that these were now part of Russia and an attack on them would justify his using all the weapons at his disposal, including nuclear ones. Well it has been several weeks now since the “annexations” and Ukrainian forces have been attacking these supposed parts of Russia without restraint, and the Russian response has fallen well short of the nuclear option.

Russian threats should not be taken lightly, but we in the west should not be afraid to call Putin’s bluff.

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Nadia Prokopiw
Federal Provincial Child Care
Serving Ukrainian New Comers in Toronto

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