Russo-Ukrainian War 3/26/22

US Aegis Ashore BMD site at the Deveselu military base in Romania (Image via NATO)

Dmitry Medvedev, head of the Russian Security Council and former President of Russia, indicated today that Russia could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, regardless of whether its adversaries had escalated first. Currently, Russia fields a fearsome low-yield strategic nuclear arsenal. Able to hit anywhere in Ukraine, their range extends deep into Eastern Europe. With stationing in Belarus or Kaliningrad, they could reach as far as Western Germany and the Benelux.

Though in line with traditional Russian ‘escalate to de-escalate nuclear policy, his announcement came as Biden delivered a speech in Warsaw, calling for a regime-change in Russia. Though the White House walked back Biden’s comments, downplaying them as part of his criticism on Russia’s foreign policy, his intention was clear; Putin could not remain in power for the sake of preserving global security, an assessment that could incentivize dissidents in Russia, had it been adopted.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has brought many places formerly under Russian occupation back into contention. Though Ukrainian Intelligence has warned that Russia’s ambitions in Kyiv may not yet be exhausted, many see a shift towards solidifying Russian gains in the Donbas. Given Zelenskyy’s refusal to concede any loss of territory, it seems the only way Putin will gain anything is through escalation. And should he escalate, the United States’ proportionate response may very well be the beginnings of a massive European conflict.

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