Op-Ed: Will Putin Use Nuclear Weapons in Russia-Ukraine War?


Protests across Europe, including this one in Estonia, have erupted in response to the Russia-Ukraine War. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

With almost eight months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, several news sources, such as the BBC, have reported that Russian soldiers are retreating from the battlefield.

With all this action happening, a lot of the world has one thought: will Russian President Vladimir Putin use nuclear weapons against Ukraine?

I do not think so.

If Putin deployed nuclear weapons, he would be breaking the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Article 1D of the Treaty states, “Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to: use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

In a United Nations briefing, the General Assembly President even said that the threat of nuclear weapons in the Russia-Ukraine War is “universally condemned.” 

Additionally, the usage of nuclear weapons could bring even more opposition to Putin’s rule. Russia has been condemning any protests against the government, but some people still try to show their opposition to the Russia-Ukraine War. For the first time since World War ll, Russia has issued a partial military mobilization. 

If this war gets out of hand, take it from Biden: ‘The mistakes get made. And the miscalculation could occur; no one can be sure what would happen and could end in Armageddon.’

If Putin decided to use nuclear weapons in an invasion of a smaller country without nuclear weapons, this could make people think that he is getting desperate and will use any means necessary to end the invasion.

Already, Putin has called in more reinforcements to replenish his weapons stockpiles. He has even used Iranian drones to aid the Russian military in this invasion. As reported in the BBC, he has already asked 300,000 military reservists to help “defend Russia and its borders.” 

In the few Russian cities that flew people outside of the country, tickets sold out soon after Russia issued the mobilization. In Finland, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Georgia, four countries that all share a border with Russia, people are trying to cross the border to leave Russia, according to the Washington Post. On the Georgia-Russia border, there was a 10-mile-long traffic line of people trying to leave Russia. Finland has had an 80 percent increase in Russian citizens attempting to cross the border.

There are also many sanctions on Russia because many countries disagree with its invasion of Ukraine. If Russia were to destroy large and populated Ukrainian cities, this could result in even harsher sanctions. Some countries may even mobilize an army to patrol their border with Russia, fearing that Russia will someday invade their country.  

If Putin does decide to use nuclear weapons, it could bring decades of fear and mistrust toward Russia, and more countries could join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Finland and Sweden are both historically neutral countries, and Finland shares a land border with Russia. Both countries are close to becoming NATO members. 

Lastly, if Putin used nuclear weapons, he could cause decades of international conflict and start a period of extremely high tension between Russia and other countries formerly part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). President Joe Biden conveyed this idea in an interview with CNN: “He, in fact, cannot continue with impunity to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that’s a rational thing to do,” Biden said. 

You may be thinking, why does this impact me? Why does a conflict on the other side of the globe affect the U.S.?

This war has impacted the entire world in ways that may not be very apparent. If this war gets out of hand, take it from Biden: “The mistakes get made. And the miscalculation could occur; no one can be sure what would happen and could end in Armageddon.”