Putin Warns About Nuclear Weapons: NATO in Ukraine

Western intelligence agencies, think tanks and Ukraine itself are reporting that the Ukrainian situation is very bad and Ukraine could, in the next three months, face defeat.

4 mins read
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

If NATO is so much against sending troops to Ukraine why doesn’t NATO demand that the soldiers already there be sent home?

On Monday, February 26, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany would not provide its Taurus long range cruise missiles to Ukraine because doing so would require German troops to be sent there to operate them, just like the British are operating the Storm Shadow air launched cruise missiles.

The British cried foul and accused Scholz of a “flagrant abuse of intelligence” meaning that Scholz confirmed what everyone already knows, that NATO officers and trained personnel are in Ukraine operating weapons such as the Patriot and NASAM air defense system, the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, the British-French Storm Shadow cruise missile (SCALP-EG in France), and many other complex weapons provided to Ukraine.

The actual number of personnel from NATO countries in Ukraine isn’t known, but there is no doubt they are there in large numbers and they come from the United States, the UK, France, Poland, and others.  When these “volunteers” are wounded or killed what happened to them is obscured and their role, often, is listed as medical or social. More recently combat status, at least in the US, is being recognized.

On February 29 Putin gave his annual two-hour long State of the Nation address.  He warned in his address that NATO’s sending troops to Ukraine could risk nuclear war.  In part Putin was responding to French President Macron’s statement about NATO sending troops to Ukraine to head off a Russian victory.  While Macron’s statement gained no traction among EU leaders, the fact that sending troops openly was discussed at an EU forum obviously ratcheted-up NATO-Russia tensions.

For some time NATO has been escalating the Ukraine conflict supposedly to help Ukraine drive the Russians out of Ukrainian territory.  However, most of the evidence is that NATO has been seeking bases for NATO forces and weapons aimed at Russia. According to the New York Times, the US already has 12 CIA bases in Ukraine on Russia’s border.

At the same time, NATO has energetically been promoting regime change in Moscow.  Wired Magazine has now revealed that the US developed special technology to track the cell-phones of Putin’s staff and colleagues in order to pinpoint Putin’s location.  This information would be of minimal value unless its intent was to assassinate Putin. The fact that the US and NATO, with the help of the Ukrainians, was deeply involved in liquidating Russian leaders (as well as military commanders) indicates without any doubt regime change was even more important than battlefield defeat of Russia.  Victoria Nuland this week said that Putin’s Russia “is not the Russia we wanted.”

There is little doubt that Putin understands that he is the target of NATO-led operators.  There have been a number of attempts to kill Putin.  One of them was a kamikaze drone attack on his office in the Kremlin.  It is probable, given the revelations on pinpointing Putin’s location, that the attack was meant to kill him (with attribution on Ukraine, not on NATO).  In another incident, six years before the Special Military Operation in Ukraine, Putin’s limo was on Moscow’s Ring Road where it was hit head on.  Putin’s driver was killed, but Putin himself was not in the car.  Not all intelligence is reliable.

While Russia’s internal politics are oftimes brutal and involve killings, Putin has been careful not to go after NATO leaders or, for that matter, Ukrainian leaders.  When he was conducting negotiations trying to sort out the Ukraine mess, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to Zelensky who feared Putin would have him killed. He then talked to Putin and Putin made a pledge that Zelensky was safe and Russia would not touch him.  Bennett’s deal on protecting Zelensky appears to have worked until now.

Western intelligence agencies, think tanks and Ukraine itself are reporting that the Ukrainian situation is very bad and Ukraine could, in the next three months, face defeat.  This has alarmed the Europeans, and it is the real reason Macron helped organize an EU emergency meeting in Paris.  In that meeting, seemingly the Europeans pledged they would supply long range weapons to Kiev, but the Germans did not agree when it came to the Taurus missile.  It is reasonable to consider that the Germans feared Russia’s reaction, or even that the Russian explicitly warned the German government that they were crossing over into a danger zone, without any good exit.

NATO policy should be urgently reevaluated.  If NATO is actually against sending troops to Ukraine, it no longer has plausible deniability over the troops already on the ground in Ukraine.  The British are right that Scholz let the cat out of the bag with his declaration about UK troops operating Storm Shadow missiles in Ukraine.  What was hidden in intelligence channels is now out in the open.

Russian anxiety over these deployments and over the weapons sent to Ukraine, some of them aimed only at Russian towns and cities, is growing.  Putin’s reminder that Russia has nuclear weapons, his warning that NATO is preparing to attack Russia, and his declaration that Russia is willing to use nuclear weapons is an indication that the political acceptability of NATO threats to Russia has crossed a critical red line.

Secret Russian planning papers from 2008 to 2014 reveal that Russian planning includes a low threshold for the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The papers, that dealt with an attack by China, suggest Russian willingness to go to nuclear weapons early in such a conflict. How this might apply to Ukraine is purely speculation, but the more NATO jacks up the threat to Russian territory, or even plans provocations and an invasion, is a subject clearly on the minds of Russian leaders.

NATO itself is in no way prepared for war with Russia.  It is in far worse shape today than it was before the Ukraine war because NATO has shipped vital weapons off to Ukraine, depriving itself of key defense assets such as ammunition, armor and missiles. Worse still, NATO leaders and former leaders (such as Boris Johnson) continue to bait the Russians, building tension on tension.  NATO can’t defend itself against a conventional attack, and certainly not against so-called tactical nuclear weapons. 

Stephen Bryen

Stephen Bryen is a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and is a leading expert in security strategy and technology. Bryen writes for Asia Times, American Thinker, Epoch Times, Newsweek, Washington Times, the Jewish Policy Center and others.

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