Putin wields nuclear threat in Ukraine. Is it an empty one?

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Putin wields nuclear threat in Ukraine. Is it an empty one?

As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine reaches a third month, experts weigh in on the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not going as smoothly as military analysts forecast.
  • Despite Russia’s unpredictable leader, few see a major risk of nuclear war.
  • Nuclear risk assessments largely rely on public statements and official doctrine.

Surely even Vladimir Putin – destructive, isolated, determined to restore his version of Russia’s greatness – wouldn’t use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, right?

The short answer is, like so many things with Putin, we don’t know – probably not. 

The Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine is not going as smoothly or quickly as many military analysts forecast. Ukraine has put up a fiercer-than-anticipated resistance to Russian troops. The Pentagon says Moscow’s poor tactics, from communications to supply-line coordination, appear to have hampered its progress. The funneling of weapons to Ukraine by its Western allies has bolstered its chances of victory.

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