Will the war in Ukraine lead to a nuclear war?

Brussels – by Elijah J. Magnier:

Russia’s former president and deputy national security chief Dmitry Medvedev has suggested that Russia, a nuclear state, cannot be defeated in Ukraine. He said: “Backward politicians in Davos reiterated that Russia must lose to achieve peace. None of them understands that the loss of nuclear power in a conventional war can lead to nuclear war. Nuclear powers have not been defeated in major conflicts that have determined their fate”. This dangerous statement, indicating Russia’s determination to win at all costs, coincides with the announcement made by the hawkish ‘Green Party’ German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at an event in Strasbourg. She said: “We (in Europe) are at war against Russia“. Does Europe agree with the German minister’s statement, and has the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) crossed the red line of letting the war in Ukraine potentially trigger the nuclear war feared by many worldwide?

Last December, the top general in the Ukrainian army said he needed “300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers to push back Russia”. Top US general Mark Milley said: “The United States has sent Ukraine more anti-tank systems than there are tanks worldwide. These are 6,600 Javelins, 20,000 other anti-tank systems, out of nearly 97,000 anti-tank systems provided to Ukraine by the international (Western) community”.

However, the proxy war between NATO and Russia has escalated. Some of the (still moderate) red lines have been removed following the West’s decision to send tanks from Britain, the US, Canada, Poland, Germany, and other EU nations to Ukraine. These tanks are expected to arrive in Ukraine after months of training for the Ukrainian army. The West has confirmed that it will send more than 350 tanks, which can be increased and is considering the possibility of even jet fighters if there is a collective consensus. 

The problem is that US and German tanks use depleted uranium (DU) ammunition, as was the case during the bombing of Serbia in 1999, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. The effects of these DU weapons on newborn babies are devastating. In this case, Moscow will consider that “dirty weapons” are being used against its soldiers, and the war could take a new, more dangerous turn.

But what if NATO does not use depleted uranium weapons and replaces them with conventional ammunition? In that case, classic war will still prevail, and Russia will accept that the West, like the Kremlin, is determined to raise the price of Russia’s victory or to push Ukraine into some sort of victory with NATO planning and weapons to negotiate a cessation of hostilities.

However, as Medvedev noted, it is not unusual for countries with nuclear weapons to lose a war. However, he may be referring to Russia’s willingness to use nuclear weapons as a matter of national survival if Russian territory, including Crimea, not Donbass, is at stake. It is not unusual for atomic states to lose wars on foreign territory without resorting to their nuclear arsenals. The US lost the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq under the blows of local resistance and did not use its nuclear weapons, despite being the most powerful country in the world. Similarly, the Soviet Union lost the 1979-1989 war in Afghanistan and did not use its nuclear weapons.

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