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Peace (Of The Dead)

Nuclear weapons are not for war, but to prevent war… this idea has long been regarded as rather an axiomatic one. The Cold War was based on this idea, and the tradition has continued for the three decades since the end of it. Recognised or covert proliferation of nuclear weapons has taken place in new geographical areas during this period of time, creating a lot of diplomatic problems. However, no one has imagined that the nuclear weapon would actually be used since the end of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In this context, the significance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent directive is unprecedented.

President Putin has instructed the Russian defence officials to be on high alert for the development of a nuclear deterrent. Putting aside the complexities of military terminology, the simple meaning of this order is: one should be more prepared to use nuclear weapons, if necessary. This does not mean that the Russian President wants to start a nuclear war. Clearly, the main purpose of this instruction is to intimidate, and it is also clear why there is a need to trigger such a fear. The quick and easy calculation behind invading Ukraine has been proven wrong, as the neighbouring country has not yet crumbled. Perhaps, President Putin did not expect that Russia would experience such losses. Furthermore, the Western World has put the Kremlin under tremendous pressure by imposing economic sanctions, especially in the case of international financial transactions.

The increasing dissatisfaction at home has also made it difficult for the Russian President to tackle the situation. Apparently, he has asked his defence officials to be on high alert for the development of a nuclear deterrent in order to cope with this pressure, and to put the West under counter-pressure. It may be noted that President Putin issued this order just a couple of days before the beginning of the first round of talks between Russia and Ukraine. His only intention was to bargain hard with Kiev. Hence, there is every reason to think that intimidation is the main purpose, and President Putin has no plan to use nuclear weapons.

However, there is no way to feel safe. Firstly, the consequences of such intimidation may not be limited to a particular country, especially when he posed the threat during a fierce battle between the two nations. Secondly, Russia’s stated position on the use of nuclear weapons changed in 2020. Before 2020, Moscow’s policy was clear, as it stated that Russia would use nuclear weapons, if its existence was endangered. As per the amended policy, the Russian State could use nuclear weapons in order to ensure that a war-like situation does not go out of control. This sort of rule regarding nuclear weapons is really intimidating.

Finally, it would be difficult for the International Community to rely on Russia and its Strongman, as they are not interested in ensuring global peace and stability following the accepted common norms. It’s not just a matter of Vladimir Putin’s personal ego or insensitivity, because the crisis is deeply rooted in different levels of the Russian State System and Politics. In this context, the old issue has resurfaced… Shall the nuclear weapons lead the world to destruction? The answer, it may be said, is blowing in the wind.

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