Nuclear Risks: Russia’s Ukraine War Could End in Disaster,

Giles David Arceneaux, assistant professor of political science at the University of Colorado and Rachel Tecott, assistant professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College.

Despite its alarming rhetoric, Russia’s reticence to use nuclear weapons thus far suggests that the threshold for nuclear use remains somewhat high. Economic sanctions are significantly harming the Russian economy. Ukraine has killed tens of thousands of Russian soldiers with transparent support from NATO countries. Finland and Sweden have abandoned neutrality by applying for NATO membership. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy remains in power and Ukraine is regaining some lost territory. Yet, despite these setbacks, Russia has not yet shown clear signs of preparing its nuclear forces for military applications.

The possibility of nuclear use, however, still looms large. Although Ukraine and its Western supporters have not yet crossed a threshold that has resulted in a nuclear attack, an expansion of war aims increases the likelihood that those thresholds may be crossed.

The concern for analyzing the future trajectory of the war, however, is that analysts have become overly confident in crisis stability and the controllability of escalation. Even if the West and Ukraine do not cross what appear to be Russia’s red lines, the simple act of approaching those thresholds can create the conditions that increase the likelihood of accidental or unauthorized nuclear use and encourage preemptive strikes against a mobilizing Russian nuclear arsenal. Läs artikel