John Erath, senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in the US, talks to Reaction about how we should interpret this latest escalation.
Do we know exactly what moving Russia’s nuclear deterrent to a “special mode of combat duty” means? And why has Putin made this announcement now?
“I certainly don’t know exactly what it means and I would suppose that the ambiguity is intentional.
Since there is no particular set of circumstances that would warrant a nuclear war at this point, Putin has done this to send a message.
We can read it as a warning – to the US, Europe, Japan and all the others that are currently taking action against Russia – to stop.
Conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for seven years now and Ukraine has been developing capabilities to resist aggression this whole time. Ukraine has experienced forces out there to defend their country. But Putin thought military action would be quick and relatively bloodless, much as it was in 2014. So when Russian forces have encountered resistance, it’s very hard for them to accept that this is resistance of Ukrainian people. It’s an easy logical jump to suppose that foreign assistance has something to do with the unexpected resistance.” Read more