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Tactical nuclear war in Ukraine

Tactical Nuclear War in Ukraine


Are we at the start of a nuclear escalation in Ukraine? Probably not, but Vladimir Putin would have you believe so.

Britain's decision to send shells made with depleted uranium to Ukraine worries the Russian military. These shells, developed among others by the United States in the 1960s to pierce the armor of tanks, can emit radioactive dust.

Although the degree of radioactive contamination of these shells is very low, and although they cannot be used to make atomic bombs or to build radioactive bombs, they remain controversial. They could pollute the environment and possibly cause cancer in those who are exposed to their dust for a long time.

These shells are very effective. The Russians have been losing about 150 tanks a month since the start of the war in Ukraine. The only factory that manufactures them in Russia only manages to produce 20 tanks per month. This is why the Russian army is sending more and more obsolete tanks into battle. Clearly, depleted uranium shells will accelerate the destruction of Russian tanks.

In response to the sending of these shells, Putin has just announced the stationing in Belarus of Russian tactical nuclear missiles.

Unlike ballistic nuclear missiles, which can wipe out large areas, tactical nuclear missiles are intended for use on battlefields. Their power remains immense. It varies between 1 and 100 kilotons. For comparison, the bomb that fell on Hiroshima weighed 15 kilotons.


It is easy to grasp the margin between the use of depleted uranium shells and the threats of using atomic bombs, even tactical ones.

Putin's response constitutes an escalation of immense proportions in comparison to the British escalation. It is not in the same category either.

So what is Putin looking for with this escalation? Its objectives are undoubtedly multiple.

He seeks to accuse the United States and its allies of being responsible for the nuclear escalation that he himself is initiating. He consolidates his hold on Belarus, which becomes a Russian nuclear ally. It obliges NATO to strengthen its nuclear forces. He is finally showing his population that he is ready to go to the end of the war.

Rupture with China

However, the leaders Chinese have warned Putin, as shown by the peace plan they submitted: the use of nuclear weapons is condemned by Beijing. If Putin crossed this red line, he would risk losing China's economic and diplomatic support.

At the end of the analysis, Putin's new deployment is more propaganda than anything else. However, one element annoys. The invasion of Ukraine was irrational, but Putin triggered it anyway. The use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be equally irrational. But no one can guarantee that Putin wouldn't. He would then lose not only the war, but the power. tactical area in Ukraine ” />

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