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  1. #71
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    So my question is this, is this considered calling a bluff:


    U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons

    http://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/25/us...a-nuclear.html


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  2. #72
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by blackchubby38 View Post
    So my question is this, is this considered calling a bluff:


    U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons

    http://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/25/us...a-nuclear.html
    I don't know what the right posture is bc unrestrained nuclear war can't really be threatened bc everyone knows that's civilization ending.

    It has to be made clear to Russia and Putin that if Russia uses nuclear weapons it will be completely isolated. Maybe a good idea to try to get China on board here as well since they're a sometimes ally of Russia. They're already somewhat isolated from economic sanctions but using a nuclear weapon in a war to annex its neighboring country should make them a pariah state for a hundred years if we all last that long.

    I don't think if Biden is asked to follow up on what "catastrophic consequences" means it could possibly mean a hundred ballistic nukes launched at Russia.


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  3. #73
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by blackchubby38 View Post
    So my question is this, is this considered calling a bluff:

    U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons

    http://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/25/us...a-nuclear.html
    Referrals to the use of Nuclear Weapons, tactical or otherwise, should bear in mind Russia has used chemical weapons in Syria, and twice in the UK to kill former members of the KGB/FSB.

    I don't know if Putin would use chemical weapons in an attack, say, on Kyiv or a smaller place in areas Russia is still fighting for in the Donbas or around Kherson, but Putin could calculate that he has used chemical weapons before and got away with it -Obama declared a 'Red Line' in Syria, but when Putin crossed it, there was no response, though this might have been due to lack of support for it in Congress.

    So a chemical weapons attack ought not to be ruled out.

    What the US considers to be a 'Strategic' response is not clear, or whether it would be a response 'in kind', which is the great fear, or the intensification of alternative 'weapons' in terms of economics, trade and so on. Were Russia to claim the areas it has held Referenda in are now Russia and any attack there is an attack on Russia and thus justified retaliation, the US might then use this to open a deeper dialogue with China.

    China is fixated on issues of Sovereignty and has a problem with Russia in Ukraine because of this. The US could attempt to put some distance between China and Russia, but China must surely see that a weak Russia enables China to become the only major player that can match the US globally, something Biden has argued since his inauguration. But rather than embolden China with regard to Taiwan, which I now think is lower down Xi's priorities, China must now see an advantage in increasing its interests in the Russian economy, with regard to oil, gas and minerals, but also a boost to its credentials across the Asian republics which have been part of Russia's orbit since Soviet days, but which may now see Russia as too weak to be of any real help outside energy pipeline deals and immigrant labour rights in Russia.

    We may be seeing an end to the phase of Globalization which created supply chains locking the world's economy into a network of Chinese producers and western consumers, but China may not need it if it can maintain the growth of its domestic market and become the major supplier to a country that borders the Pacific in the East and Poland in the West.
    But I doubt Xi can restrain Putin when it comes to military affairs.

    Does the US have a list of targets in Russia? Yes, but it has always stopped short of attacking Russia directly, not just because of the potential military response, but because it might increase Putin's support among the people who, with a US attack realize Putin was right all along about 'the evil West' planning since the 1990s to render Russia just a footprint on European and American heels.

    But, finally, this thought -once Putin uses either chemical weapons and/or nuclear weapons, what else does he have? It looks like a last throw of the dice, and this from a military machine that so far has been proven all but useless, its only effective weapons the artillery it lobs across the border at indiscriminate targets, often civilian. Does Russia still have an air force?

    Kaliningrad for some is now the focus of intense US surveillance as it is believed Russia is pouring arms into the enclave, possibly including tactical nukes.

    And if Russia uses sabotage on the Nordstream pipeline, can the US/NATO use sabotage on installations inside Russia with 'plausible deniability'?


    Last edited by Stavros; 09-29-2022 at 06:32 AM.

  4. #74
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    The partial destruction of the bridge linking Russia to the Crimea is said by some to be a 'game changer' because the bridge was one of Putin's prestige projects which he claimed was indestructible.

    Russia has the artillery to continue bombarding Ukraine and that will not stop. Whether or not the bridge incident leads to another form of escalation I do not know. I have suggested before Russia could just as much use chemical, as tactical nuclear weapons, but I don't see Russia having anything but a military response, even though so far it is the military that has been Russia's weakest component in the war, bombardments being the exception.

    So more of the same, more destruction, more lives lost, people injured.



  5. #75
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    I was thinking of bringing the last couple of posts from the other thread in here because they're interesting, mostly on topic, and I have some thoughts.

    One thing I think that needs to be addressed head on is how the world deals with nuclear brinksmanship. Now that Putin's army is seriously faltering, we face more explicit threats of nuclear blackmail than before. Russia threatening to use tactical nukes, and making veiled threats about what happens if they face serious peril. The problem with this last argument is that self-defense doesn't extend to cover military losses while trying to conquer another country.

    So let's say NATO and Ukraine let's Russia have some of what it wants. Does this encourage Russia to use this tactic again and for further gains? They're not constrained by the truth at all. So it's not like they even need a plausible excuse to run over eastern europe if they can.



  6. #76
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by filghy2 View Post
    I think the claimed provocation is the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, despite assurances apparently given to Gorbachev in 1990. The are obvious problems in using this to excuse Russia's action.

    1. NATO had not expanded into Ukraine. Although they had expressed a wish to join, there was no indication this was going to happen any time soon.
    2. Self-defence hardly justifies attempting to obliterate another country, deliberate targeting of civilians, etc.
    3. Russian aggression has obviously been counter-productive, given previously-neutral countries (Sweden and Finland) have now asked to join NATO and Ukraine has also now formally applied.
    4. The argument implies that Russia's neighbours have no right to choose their own destiny. They can't choose to be part of the West just because Russian leaders are paranoid.
    5. The self-defence argument ignores Putin's rhetoric about restoring the Russian empire and Ukraine not being a real country, as well as previous Russian aggression in Crimea and Georgia.

    I know the anti-Western leftists will say that the US has also interfered in neighbouring countries against leftist governments, but I don't think they've done anything that compares with Russia's behaviour in Ukraine.
    Thank you for this. I agree with all of your points. I can see why Russia sees NATO as a concern because maybe a border skirmish triggers some sort of collective obligation and this changes the balance of power in the region. But even the most generous yet still rational interpretation cannot view it as a threat to Russia's sovereignty or legally recognized territories.

    I'm sure the analogy is inapt but imagine Mexico signed a collective security agreement with a bunch of countries that would obligate these countries to defend Mexico if the US or any other country attacked them. Mexico, like Ukraine, is considered the weaker military power and has never shown aspirations of engaging in the aggressive conquest of US territory. Would this be a "threat" in any real sense? I'm sure Republicans would pretend it is. They think people sneaking into the US to make a better life for themselves is an invasion though rational people know this is a product of their racism (though I'm not saying there aren't rational ways to object to illegal immigration). Sometimes a pretext for war is so flimsy it's barely rational which your points 4 & 5 address.

    I know my analogy falls short because there's a greater history of belligerence and conflict between NATO and Russia/Soviet Union, but what is a threat? I would think that something is a threat if a neighboring country wants to conquer your territory and is willing to kill your civilians (either they have or they threaten to do so).



  7. #77
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by broncofan View Post
    I was thinking of bringing the last couple of posts from the other thread in here because they're interesting, mostly on topic, and I have some thoughts.

    One thing I think that needs to be addressed head on is how the world deals with nuclear brinksmanship. Now that Putin's army is seriously faltering, we face more explicit threats of nuclear blackmail than before. Russia threatening to use tactical nukes, and making veiled threats about what happens if they face serious peril. The problem with this last argument is that self-defense doesn't extend to cover military losses while trying to conquer another country.

    So let's say NATO and Ukraine let's Russia have some of what it wants. Does this encourage Russia to use this tactic again and for further gains? They're not constrained by the truth at all. So it's not like they even need a plausible excuse to run over eastern europe if they can.
    What would be the purpose of Putin using tactical nuclear weapons?

    In theory it would be to bring the conflict to an end, with Ukraine -urged on by its allies- agreeing to peace talks that would give Russia the territory in Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea it has occupied since 2014. But to do this Putin has to maintain the contradiction of claiming Ukraine is really part of Russia, and destroying so many of its cities, towns and villages- inheriting a blasted landscape, tremendous loss of life, and people injured for life who are embittered and angry. Ukraine may have the natural resources Russia wants, but its human resources would be difficult if not impossible to manage.

    It seems to me to return us to the place where we were before, where Russia in reality has no claim on Ukraine, other than the historical relations which have gone from familial and comradely to dismissive and violent.

    in practice, then, using nukes is a lose-lose-lose result

    -He loses the 'Ukraine is Russia' argument: Putin doesn't win any territory that wants to be part of Russia.
    -He loses the weapons in the arsenal;
    - He loses any trust other States have with Russia who are not already on its side, and may lose some who either are, or currently hedge their bets -such as China, Turkey and Israel.

    For Saudi Arabia and Iran, it would probably accelerate their own nuclear developments, with the Russians and the Chinese aiding Iran, the US and Israel aiding Saudi Arabia (as the US already has under Trump) [though the long-term aim of the Wahabi Saudis is to unify the whole of the Middle East under their command].

    Unfortunately, Putin is in a position where he loses whatever he does, as I don't think even using nukes will bring Ukraine to the negotiating table, and inside Russia, there must be calculations about the devastating impact the war is having on the military, on the economy, and on the wider society which has no voice owing to the crushing by Putin of civil society. How long Putin can survive on his own I don't know, but I also wonder if in military terms, the Nationalist Extremists who don't think Putin has gone far enough to win Ukraine, have a workable plan that would be supported by the military. Again, unfortunately, I think Putin consider Russian military intervention in Syria to be a success, which begs the question, what is success?

    Unless the only outcome of all this is that Russia all but destroys enough of Ukraine to render it poor, disorganized, and dependent on external powers who, like Elongated Musk cannot finance it forever.

    Rogue factor -would the new govt in Israel if it contains the extremists like the 'Religious Zionist Party' -a party that has said it wants to expel Arabs from Israel, directly attack Iran and be encouraged to do so if Putin used tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine?
    There is an assessment of the Israeli elections and a section on the RZP by the pro-Israeli Washington Insitute, here-
    Israeli Elections, Round Five: A Game of Inches | The Washington Institute


    Last edited by Stavros; 10-18-2022 at 04:06 PM.

  8. #78
    filghy2 Silver Poster
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stavros View Post
    What would be the purpose of Putin using tactical nuclear weapons?
    The problem is that you are trying to apply a rational calculus, but if Putin was using such a calculus he would not have invaded Ukraine in the first place.

    I think the fear that is uppermost in Putin's mind is that his leadership won't survive if he doesn't get some kind of win out of his gamble. Losing power is hugely risky for brutal dictators.

    The dilemma for the West is that giving in to nuclear blackmail to let Putin have his win will guarantee there is more of it in future. History is full of examples of outcomes that were in nobody's interest resulting from this kind of dynamic.



  9. #79
    filghy2 Silver Poster
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by broncofan View Post
    I'm sure the analogy is inapt but imagine Mexico signed a collective security agreement with a bunch of countries that would obligate these countries to defend Mexico if the US or any other country attacked them.
    There was a somewhat analogous episode in WWI, although Mexico did not take up the German proposal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimmermann_Telegram

    Anyway, we do have the real world example of Cuba, which was a Soviet ally. Although the US tried various measures to undermine the Cuban Regime, I don't think they ever attacked Cuba directly (apart from sponsoring the proxy Bay of Pigs fiasco). That said, they did threaten war when the Soviets tried to install nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. But they never attacked Cuba after that crisis was resolved, presumably because they were worried about the Soviet reaction.



  10. #80
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by filghy2 View Post
    The problem is that you are trying to apply a rational calculus, but if Putin was using such a calculus he would not have invaded Ukraine in the first place.

    I think the fear that is uppermost in Putin's mind is that his leadership won't survive if he doesn't get some kind of win out of his gamble. Losing power is hugely risky for brutal dictators.

    The dilemma for the West is that giving in to nuclear blackmail to let Putin have his win will guarantee there is more of it in future. History is full of examples of outcomes that were in nobody's interest resulting from this kind of dynamic.
    I think it must depend on what Putin believes the end-result of his campaign will be. To that end, the submission of Ukraine to Russia, outside NATO, inside the Economic Zone which Putin has been trying to create to integrate the former Soviet Republics into their version of the EU, his actions have been rational. It matters nothing to Putin if cities, towns and villages and the people who live in them are destroyed, humans will create new ones, and it is Ukraine's resources, notably in agriculture that Russia needs. The rationality of his intentions has been undone by his mis-calculation of Russia's military abilities, and Ukraine's reformed military. One has proved to be useless on the ground, the other superior.

    Putin could order a ceasefire pending a round of talks, and then present Ukraine as the obstacle to peace. I think on the basis of what happened in Chechnya and Syria, the bombing will continue as, at the very least, Putin wants to destroy as much of Ukraine's infrastructure as he can.

    Rationality in Iraq meant the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 because Saddam did not believe it would be opposed -there is some argument he mentioned it to April Glaspie and she did not indicate hostility to the idea by President GHW Bush. The Argentine Junta authorized the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, on the basis the UK would not respond with military force. These, at the outset were all rational decisions, but factored in the lack of response which actually materialized. Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 expecting a military response, but was able to use control of the canal to create enough of an international crisis that external powers did not support the Anglo-French-Israeli attack. In all these cases, the rationale contained a fatal risk, and either succeeded or failed. In all these cases, the self-confidence of the decision makers launched the actions they later suffered for.

    By contrast, the USSR putting nuclear missiles on Cuba does seem crazy from every angle, and in that case led to Khrushchev losing his job.



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