To understand the broad context within which current developments in Ukraine should be considered, see
“Ukraine War, October 26, 2022: The context for analysis of current developments; The “dirty bomb” as a Russian propaganda distraction from current war crimes,” The Trenchant Observer, October 26, 2022.
1) Helene Cooper, Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt, “Russian Military Leaders Discussed Use of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Officials Say: The conversations alarmed the Biden administration because they showed how frustrated Moscow had become over its battlefield setbacks in Ukraine,” New York Times, November 2, 2022 ( 5:00 a.m.);
Russian generals made a round of calls to their counterparts in the U.S. and other NATO countries during the last week, in effect renewing Putin’s nuclear threats.
Putin may have ordered these calls for several purposes.
First, they could be used to gage the likely reaction of U.S. and NATO forces to Russian use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine. Earlier reports left the impression that the NATO response would be measured and not involve the use of nuclear weapons, or even the entry of NATO forces into the conflict by attacking Russian conventional forces in Ukraine.
Getting an updated read on opponents and their intentions. This is the way Putin used the visits by Western leaders before the invasion, when they begging him not to invade Ukraine.
If in any calls from Russian Generals to counterparts in NATO countries the latter said anything to Russian generals or officuals about what they might react to, and when and how, they got played by Putin.
Think about it. Putin and Russia are committing the international crime of aggression by invading Ukraine.
They are conducting a strategy based on the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in brazen violation of the fundamental principle underlying all international humanitarian law (the law of war), that civilians and civilian targets must never be intentionally attacked.
Forces under these generals are committing war crimes daily on a massive scale and on such a systematic basis so that they constitute crimes against humanity. They are also committing war crimes against a targeted national group which constitute acts of genocide as these are defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Russia is a party to the Convention. Indeed, in the genocide case before it, the International Court of Justice or “World Court” has issued an order of provisional measures (like a temporary injunction) calling on Russia to cease its military actions in Ukraine.
And tbese generals are calling NATO generals to discuss scenarios in which a tactical nuclear weapon might be used by Russia?
Are we crazy?
At the very least, we the public deserve to know what our generals told their generals.
A second purpose for which Putin may have ordered these calls would be to ratchet up the fear of Putin on President Joe Biden’s part. This is most likely.
Thurd, they could be used to fan the fear of nuclear war among the populations of NATO countries.
Our generals should have had a script by which they said, “If you use a nuclear weapon, it may cost you your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren. Now, how can we keep this from happening?”
It’s hard to conjure up the image of German General Rommel ringing up British General Montgomery to discus moves and countermoves in upcoming tank battles in North Africa in World War II.
Biden needs to form an Executive Committee to help him navigate the perilous waters of the current nuclear confrontation between Russia and the United States.
Biden and his administration also need to shift gears and become proactive in the current showdown with Russia.
Passivity and constantly ceding “escalation dominance” to Putin is not a recipe for success.
Putin is taking down Ukraine’s electricity and water infrastructure every day as we speak.
What will it take to wake up the leaders in the U.S. and other NATO countries to take effective action in response to Putin’s escalations?
The Trenchant Observer