JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin and the Psychology of Nuclear Brinksmanship” – Foreign Affairs

Russian Tactical Missile on Mobile Launcher, adapted from image featured by army.mil and defense.gov

“The War in Ukraine Hinges on One Man’s Thoughts and Feelings.”

“Shortly after the West rebuked Russia for its 2022 invasion of Ukraine and imposed financial sanctions … Putin … put[] … nuclear forces on high alert. The Kremlin has issued many more nuclear threats, some oblique … some explicit …. Even before the war … Russia … reversed its longtime ‘no first use’ policy …. Some now believe Russia has switched to an approach known as ‘escalate to de-escalate,’ … [the concept of nuclear escalation] …  [to] prov[e] one’s commitment to destruction … [to] forc[e] the enemy to capitulate. In Ukraine, that could mean … tactical, low-yield nuclear weapons on the battlefield — which CIA Director William Burns and … high-ranking U.S. military leaders have warned is possible. Putin … has … said … Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons … confronting an ‘existential’ threat. … [I]t is impossible to precisely assess the odds that Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But uncertainty and imprecision are not the same as ignorance. Psychological theory and evidence … [and] the history of warfare[] point to a high enough risk that Western governments must plan ahead[] … [and] weigh … possible responses to an escalation that would come as a shock but should not come as a surprise. …”

Click here for: “Putin and the Psychology of Nuclear Brinksmanship; The War in Ukraine Hinges on One Man’s Thoughts and Feelings” – Foreign Affairs/ Rose McDermott, Reid Pauly, Paul Slovic