There have been several allusions to a potential nuclear element to the conflict since the Russian invasion back in February. NATO maintains its status as a “nuclear alliance”, with the emphasis placed on the idea of deterrence.
But NATO is clear that “if the fundamental security of any ally were to be threatened, NATO has the capabilities and resolve to defend itself – including with nuclear weapons”.
But military analyst Pavel Podvig has outlined a new argument he believes is the “way to counter Russia’s nuclear threats”.
He described how the “only way nuclear weapons could be used in Ukraine” would be a targeted strike on civilian cities.
This would be in the style of the 1945 detonation of atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he added.
He told AFP: “Let’s stop and then we will figure out how to go on living.
“There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war.”
Vladimir Putin himself was quick to issue nuclear threats just hours before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
He said in late February: “As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states.”
He added: “Moreover, it has a certain advantage in several cutting-edge weapons.
“In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.”
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, remarked that Putin’s invasion was the first time in decades that nuclear war was considered to be an international worry.
He said: “The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.”
The following month, Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, called the danger of nuclear conflict “serious” and “real”.
He said in April: “The risks now are considerable.
“I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that.
“The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.”