The positioning of the military alliance has been the cause of much controversy regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Pope Francis suggested the conflict was “perhaps somehow provoked”, recalling a conversation in which he was warned NATO was “barking at the gates of Russia”.
Others have speculated that Vladimir Putin might have been prompted by his alleged flailing health.
Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has put forward what he has termed a “bold idea” to bring the ongoing conflict to an end.
He wrote in a post on Twitter: “NATO offers to withdraw nukes from Europe (militarily useless, ineffective deterrents as we’ve just seen, and recklessly dangerous) in return for ending the invasion.
“Putin gets a ‘win’ which costs us nothing worth having.”
Nuclear Information Project Director Hans Kristensen agreed that this would be “bold indeed”.
He wrote: “I agree US nukes in Europe are a ‘militarily useless, ineffective deterrent’, but NATO didn’t try to deter anything with them in Ukraine and Putin’s invasion is making NATO double down on keeping them. And the nukes are not important enough for Putin to agree to that.”
@lulzwow923 added: “This particular idea isn’t very good, but if nothing else articles like this help to get people into the headspace for making strategic compromises, something that will probably be necessary to conclude things without a wider war.”
Mr Pinker has, however, received some backlash to his post from other social media users.
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Others accused the Harvard professor of “appeasement”, arguing that he should “stick to his field”.
Journalist Kevin Rothrock noted, however, that many of the responses followed a very similar theme.
He wrote: “Quote tweets responding to this suggestion indicate that talk of any strategic compromises with Moscow remains treasonous/idiotic in Twittersphere discourse.”
This is despite a recent intelligence report by Ukrainian and Western officials highlighting that Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces are outgunned 20 to one to Russia in artillery and 40 to one in ammunition.
Countries in the West which are currently backing Ukraine are also running low on their own stockpiles.
The UK recently had to buy howitzers from a third source to send to Ukraine because of its own shortages.
Rising costs at home could make the imposition of further sanctions and the granting of more military support politically dangerous.
Mr Pinker’s suggestion is unlikely to gain any traction among NATO officials, who are looking to expand further since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both in terms of its size and military capabilities.