A direct confrontation between Russia and NATO would entail an exchange of nuclear strikes. This was reported on August 2 by The Economist magazine.
According to the author of the article, this makes the United States to be more careful with military support to Ukraine, since the supply of weapons to Kiev could push the West and Russia to a nuclear war.
He recalled how Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that the word “impossible” for him means “possibly in the future.”
“But the main reason why America acts with caution is the fear of Russia. She is afraid of escalation: that Russia will strike at NATO (in military jargon, “horizontal escalation”) or resort to chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine (“vertical escalation”),” the publication notes.
As the journalist pointed out, any of these options could lead to a direct conflict with the Russian Federation. However, US President Joe Biden said he would not allow a third world war.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres , announced on August 6 the start of a new arms race in the world.
The day before, Deputy Secretary of State for Arms Control Bonnie Jenkins said that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries that are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Earlier, on August 4, Ding Tongbing, Director of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that the US nuclear arsenal threatens international peace and security. He noted that China itself maintains its nuclear arsenal at the minimum level necessary to protect national security.
In addition, the head of the disarmament department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Fu Cong, said that the United States is violating the provisions of the international NPT by transferring it to non-nuclear powers.
Prior to this, on August 1, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Washington would consider the use of nuclear weapons only in emergency circumstances. According to him, the use of this measure is possible to protect the vital interests of the country, its allies and partners.
At the same time, UN Secretary General António Guterres noted that the current danger of using nuclear weapons exceeds the level that existed during the Cold War. According to him, humanity risks forgetting the lessons of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Russian Foreign Ministry noted on August 2 that Russia believes that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it should never be unleashed.
However, frustration and uncertainty serve nuclear deterrence in their own way: America refrains from direct intervention, Russia from attacking NATO. The late Tom Schelling, economist and nuclear strategist, argued that the brink of war is incomprehensible: not a hard edge where you can stand safely, staring into the abyss and decide whether to throw yourself down or not, but a slippery and sloping slope, where neither standing nor looking from the outside is able to confidently assess the risk.
So, in a situation where the main threat is a catastrophic nuclear exchange, who can blame the leaders for playing it safe?