Headline RoundupMarch 16th, 2022

Will Putin Employ Nuclear Weapons to Support Russia's Invasion of Ukraine?

AllSides Summary

The stout Ukrainian resistance to Russia's invasion inspires people around the world, but also leads to questions about additional measures Russian President Vladimir Putin may take — including the use of nuclear weapons.

Reports across the spectrum suggest that Putin's invasion hasn't gone as planned and has stalled in some areas, which prompts speculation about whether Russia will escalate the conflict further. As the invasion began, Putin threatened "consequences greater than any you have faced" to countries that tried to interfere, and placed Russia's nuclear forces on high alert just days later. Russia's most recent military doctrine authorizes the use of nuclear weapons in response to any assault on Russia or its allies "in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation."

Voices across the spectrum expressed concern about Putin's mental state and uncertainty about his thought process with the invasion and how to proceed. Many framed the potential for Putin to use nuclear weapons as unlikely but not impossible, and therefore worrisome. One writer for National Review (Right bias) called special attention to Russia's relatively low bar for authorizing the use of nuclear weapons, and used that to argue that the U.S. should focus on deterring the nuclear threat with methods beyond sanctions, such as cyberattacks and covert action. One writer for The Atlantic drew parallels between Putin's threats and former President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" threats against North Korea in 2017, and framed concentrated executive authority over nuclear weapons as problematic.

Featured Coverage of this Story

More headline roundups

More News about Defense and Security from the Left, Center and Right

From the Left

From the Center

From the Right