Putin’s Nuclear Itch - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Putin’s Nuclear Itch

For a year I’ve been expressing my fear of a desperate Vladimir Putin ultimately resorting to a nuclear option of some sort in Ukraine. The Russians always get their tails kicked in military conflicts, and the fact that they’ve been beat up in Ukraine is no surprise to anyone with a knowledge of Russian military history. Maybe the one person most surprised is Vladimir Putin. He’s not pleased. Putin is a thug, and as he runs out of options to seize Ukraine, the cornered Mad Dog could lash out at his fabricated enemy in an especially vicious way. That might mean nuclear weapons in some form.

The latest news out of Moscow is that Putin plans to place nukes in Belarus.

That also means that Putin has desperately searched for an excuse for such weapons. He needs to conjure up a pretext to groan about on the global stage, just as he invented the ludicrous notion that he invaded Ukraine not because he was planning to do so for years, including long before Volodymyr Zelensky came to power in May 2019, but to spare the neighboring nation’s people from “Nazification” under the Jewish leader.

Well, Putin might now have his excuse to escalate to a nuclear level.

Russia learned last week that Britain is supplying to Ukraine tank munitions that use depleted uranium shells — specifically, armor-piercing rounds that accompany the Challenger 2 tanks that London is providing to Kyiv. Britain has used these shells for years as standard conventional weaponry. They’re not considered nuclear weapons.

To this, the Kremlin has responded, “Nyet!” and then some. Putin and his minions insist that Britain’s depleted uranium shells would add a “nuclear component” to the conflict and hence Russia could respond accordingly: “It seems that the West really decided to fight with Russia to the last Ukrainian — no longer in words, but in deeds,” assessed Putin grimly. “But in this regard, I would like to note that if all this happens, then Russia will have to respond accordingly. I mean that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.”

That’s pure agitprop, ratcheted up to the level of classic Soviet dezinformatsiya — that is, disinformation. Former Lt. Col. Putin learned the craft at the KGB in the 1980s.

The British Ministry of Defence stated just that: “The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armour piercing shells for decades. Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform.” A British Army tank commander and chemical weapons expert, Col. Hamish de Breton-Gordon, dubbed Putin’s assessment “classic disinformation.”

Spot on, colonel.

But Putin is peddling this bunkum for a dastardly purpose, and NATO member countries know it, especially those near the frontlines.

One such country, Hungary, is now urging Britain not to supply these munitions because Putin clearly is using them as an excuse for further “escalation.”

Hungary is right to express that concern. But then again, Putin will seize a pretext anywhere he can. That’s how authoritarians operate. He invaded Ukraine with the excuse that he was sparing its people from “Nazis.” Like Hitler — the real Nazi — like Stalin, like Saddam Hussein, like any dictator, he’ll carve out excuses to carve up his enemies. (READ MORE from Paul Kengor: New Revelation on Putin’s Long Plan to Partition Ukraine)

Vladimir Putin, I firmly believe, is itching to use nukes. This is far from the first time that he has talked about nuclear weapons. And as I write, the latest news out of Moscow is that Putin plans to place nukes in Belarus. This man has been steadily moving toward the nuclear option as he loses on the ground. When he gets truly desperate, I fear he could pull the trigger. Maybe this is the pretext he has been grasping for.

If it is, it will be sad to see not only the human catastrophe in Ukraine, of course, but also the defenses by Putinists in the United States who bizarrely rally to this Kremlin bully. They often accuse those opposing Putin of being “warmongers.” Well, perhaps there are some Americans indeed pursuing a course that could prompt a direct U.S. hot war with the Russkies in Ukraine. That would be a terrible outcome.

I’m particularly annoyed by the American Left’s new Russia hawks, intrepidly flying their Ukraine flags aside their gay Pride flags. We couldn’t get these people on our side during the Cold War when the Red Army occupied all of Eastern Europe, but nowadays they’re gassing up the tanks to storm Stalingrad. I’m loath to ally with American cultural revolutionaries whose preferred enemies are Christian bakers and florists and parents concerned with drag queen story hour at the local library. They fight for CRT and DEI along with U.S. drones and missiles to kill Russian boys.

For many of us supporting Ukraine and calling out Putin’s thuggery, the last thing we want is a war between Uncle Sam and the Russian bear.

Unfortunately, if Putin escalates, especially in a ghastly way that involves nukes, he will draw the West and NATO — and the United States — into this conflict in a very bad way. All hell could break loose. Putinists in America will blame the West for that. Just as Putin will. But, alas, they should understand that Mad Dog has been itching for a nuclear option for quite some time. Let us hope this isn’t it.

Paul Kengor
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Paul Kengor is Editor of The American Spectator. Dr. Kengor is also a professor of political science at Grove City College, a senior academic fellow at the Center for Vision & Values, and the author of over a dozen books, including A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
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