The DEFCON Warning System

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war. Established 1984

Russia Really Could Use A Nuclear Weapon In The Ukraine Conflict

For those of you who are new to The DEFCON Warning System, you’ve probably been seeing a lot of alarming messages.  Doom!  Fear!  Nuclear war!  The Community Forum that we run is filled with even more of that, and it’s even more alarming.

But for those of you who have been following The DEFCON Warning System for a while, you know we don’t engage “doom porn” and stamp it out pretty quickly.  There is no reason to make alarming proclamations where there is no real threat, and we have little (read “no”) tolerance for others who make their money off of frightening people.  Leave the End Of The World On Tuesday predictions to the nutjobs who for some reason seem to look forward to Armageddon.

Is Russia’s war with Ukraine really as bad as it seems?

Okay, enough beating around the bush.  Let’s ask the real question: Will Russia use a nuclear weapon?

Even a month ago, we would have said there wasn’t a chance.

But something has changed.

Russia started using language that was very bellicose.  “Ukraine is trying to acquire nuclear weapons.”  “Nazism.”  Extreme language that gave Russia the casus belli that it was looking for to go in.

Somehow, things somehow managed to go even more South after that.

Ukraine put up a massive fight.  Far more than Russia was ready for.  Russia started taking losses.  NATO, far from cowing in the corner, united and launched an economic war that was about as devastating as a nuclear one.  Non-aligned countries started clamouring to get into NATO.  Weapons poured into Ukraine.  And the Russian public came out against the invasion.

The Russian President vastly misread the room.

And now Russia is stuck.  It has three options:

  1. Push for a quick resolution.
  2. Get stuck in a quagmire.
  3. Withdraw in humiliation.

A quick resolution can take two forms.  It can be Ukraine’s surrender or a negotiation.

A negotiated settlement could happen, but for now the terms are not something Ukraine is willing to swallow.  Maybe after a few more cities are taken, that might change.

Russia doesn’t want to get stuck in Ukraine for long.  Especially now that it virtually has no economy.  Wars cost money and a citizenry who didn’t want the war in the first place is unlikely to tolerate economic hardship.

And if anyone thinks Russia is going to withdraw and face a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ukraine…well, bridge/sale/you get the idea.

Russia wants a quick end to the war.  End the Russian losses and end the economic devastation.  If Ukraine is unwilling to give them a quick end, what is Russia to do?

And now here is where the calculus gets dangerous.

Already we see Russia attempting to wear down Ukraine by attacking civilians.  They are using illegal weapons and targeting illegal targets.  Russia is already accused of war crimes.

Inside Russia, the Russian President is facing a military who didn’t want the war and an inner circle that is beginning to think maybe the President needs to be “delt with, Russian style”.  After all, a head on a pike would certainly end the war and allow Russia to withdraw with some honour, putting all the blame for the war on the dead guy.

So here is what Russia is facing.  And time is running out.  Some calculations say Russia can hold out until June.  Three months?  Can their economy last that long?   Ukraine doesn’t need to win.  They just need to hold out until Russia collapses.

This brings us to the dangerous option Russia has.  A way to possibly end the war quickly.

A nuclear attack, a demonstration bomb over the sea or over Ukraine.

From Russia’s point of view, they could see such an event propelling Ukraine to surrender.  Additionally, Russia may think that NATO, fearing what Russia is capable of, would refrain from responding.  After all, it wasn’t NATO that was attacked, and any response would certainly invite Russia to counterattack on their home soil.

Would Russia risk it?  It’s unthinkable.  But is it impossible?

The DEFCON Warning System believes that this is an option that is on the table.  Russia has many options.  This is one of them.  Doesn’t mean they’ll do it.  In fact, let’s go so far as to say they won’t do it.  But it is something that is considered.

And this is the point we want to make.

We want the public to at least consider the possibility.  That maybe, in some horrible lottery, that number  — as remote as it may be — might come up.

And so we want you to think about being prepared.

This is why we talk about nuclear war.  Why we list articles and opinions and thoughts about this possibility.  Because the possibility is there, no matter how much we want to deny it.

No, this is not doom.  This is not fear.  This is reality.  A reality we have to deal with.  However remote.

Chances are it’ll never happen.  I constantly tell people that if I was really worried that Russia would pop off a nuke, I wouldn’t be wasting time playing video games during my time off.

But I don’t ignore the possibility.

And neither should you.

Make some preparations.  It won’t hurt, and if nothing happens you’ll have some extra supplies to use.

Better to be prepared and not need it than not be prepared and not have it.

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

© 2023 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.