Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being written. please check back for updates and additions.
To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.
Only force can stop Putin
See “Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022.
1) Ellen Mitchell, “Zelensky says world should prepare for Russia to use nuclear weapons,” The Hill, April 15, 2022 (12:19 PM ET);
2) David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes, “C.I.A. Director Airs Concern That Putin Might Turn to Nuclear Weapons; William J. Burns, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, cautioned that he had seen no “practical evidence” that would suggest such a move was imminent,” New York Times, April 14, 2022.
3) David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper and Anton Troianovski, “Girding for a new battle, Russia warns the U.S. on advanced weapons for Ukraine, ” New York Times, April 15, 2022 (updated 11,11 pm ET).
4) Sylvie Kauffmann, “‘The Russian war in Ukraine has entered a new military, ideological and geopolitical phase,’; With negotiations at a stalemate, Russia focuses military offensive operations on Donbas and the southeast. While the next phase of the war looks set to be even tougher, Europeans have no choice but to get more involved, writes Le Monde’s editorialist Sylvie Kauffmann,” Le Monde in English, April 14, 2022 (14h29, updated at 15h10);
5) Carlos Torralba y Manuel V. Gómez, “Rusia amenaza con desplegar armas nucleares cerca del Báltico si Suecia y Finlandia entran en la OTAN; Lituania responde que el Ejército ruso dispone ya de este tipo de armamento en Kaliningrado, un enclave entre Polonia y el territorio lituano, El País, el 14 de abril 2022 (05:47, actualizado a 14:55 EDT).
Trenchant Observer articles on Russian nuclear threats
1) “Ukraine War, March 29, 2022 (II): Putin’s press spokesman downplays nuclear threats: Trump asks Putin to release data on Biden and family,” The Trenchant Observer,March 29, 2022;
2) “The Elephant in the Room: Reflections on the nuclear deterrent and the Ukraine,” The Trenchant Observer, December 1, 2014.;
3) “Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022;
4) “Ukraine War, March 11, 2022 (II): Putin’s brilliant success in implanting fear in Joe Biden’s mind–‘If you fight me, One, Two, Three, World War III,'” The Trenchant Observer, March 11, 2022.;
5) “Ukraine War, March 5, 2022: The West* is at war with Russia,” The Trenchant Observer, March 5, 2022;
6) “Ukraine War, March 3, 2022 (I): Would the use of force in collective self-defense of Ukraine automatically lead to World War III?” The Trenchant Observer, March 3, 2022.
The sclerotic responses by President Joe Biden and the White House to Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats are dangerous.
They only reinforce Putin’s apparent belief that, like Obama before him, Biden will quickly fold in any nuclear confrontation with Russia.
Russia threatens to install nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad. The U.S. is silent. What has been needed is a robust response, such as:
If Russia deploys nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, the U.S. and NATO may deploy nuclear weapons in countries bordering Russia. This would bring them within five (or 10 or whatever the number is) minutes of Moscow. It was to avoid precisely such a scenario that the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (in force between ___ and ___) was designed to avoid. The U.S. withdrew from the treaty after numerous blatant violations of its provisions by the Russian Federation.
After Russia has withdrawn its troops from Ukraine and ceased its military threats against Ukraine and NATO countries, the United States will be prepared to enter into serious negotiations aimed at the conclusion of a new INF Treaty at an early date.
In general, the passive and strictly defensive nature of the U.S. posture toward Russia in its war against Ukraine has repeatedly reinforced Putin’s belief that the West is weak and will not stand up to him, not even in a nuclear confrontation.
The U.S. and NATO need to abandon this posture, and to start making pronouncements and taking actions that cause Putin to worry about military engagement with NATO.
Specifically, they should act in a way that makes Putin worry about how his use of a nuclear weapon could provoke immediate NATO military involvement in the conflict. NATO, acting with conventional military forces and in collective self-defense of Ukraine under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, could quickly change the situation on the battlefield.
Such a conventional response could avoid immediate nuclear escalation, placing the ball back in Putin’s court.
To not react with such a forceful action would, in effect, amount to a surrender to Putin.
These are merely the views of an outside observer, offering suggestions based on a close analysis of public developments.
The actual calculations and decisions must be made by top military and foreign policy officials, and ultimately by Joe Biden.
The burden they carry on their shoulders is enormous.
We should all pray for them.
The Trenchant Observer