The Ukraine Crisis; Situation Update #15

Foreign Policy Brief #152 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | October 17, 2022

Header photo taken from: Finbarr O’Reilly / The New York Times




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EU warns Russian army will be ‘annihilated’ if Putin uses nuclear weapon on Ukraine; Josep Borrell suggests Putin ‘cannot afford bluffing’ and says those backing Ukraine — including NATO and the US — ‘are not bluffing neither’.

Photo taken from: AP / Olivier Matthys

Here is the latest update regarding US RENEW NEWS coverage of Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Nuclear threats

At nearly eight months of war the threat of nuclear weapons continues to grow. Putin has repeatedly threatened that use of nuclear weapons was a possibility should he deem their use necessary. On October 13, 2022 EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that Russia’s army would be “annihilated” by the West’s military response if Vladimir Putin used nuclear weapons against Ukraine. NATO has also issued warning to the Kremlin about possible nuclear strikes with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stating that a “very important line would be crossed” if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Any nuclear use in Ukraine would be likely to involve non-strategic weapons that have shorter-range delivery systems, and which are usually less powerful than strategic arms. However on average these weapons are many times more powerful that the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs and would still cause untold damage. Still, it is far from certain that Putin would be prepared to be the first leader to use nuclear weapons in wartime since 1945.

If his primary goal is to stay in power, a nuclear strike would be exactly the wrong way of going about it. The Russian president is reported to be facing dissent from his inner circle after the debacle that has been their invasion of Ukraine. Taking the step to use nuclear arms could bring his authority to its breaking point.

Missile strikes and rival alliances

Areas of Ukraine such as the capital Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia have once again been hit by missiles. It is likely that Russia’s attacks on the capital came as a response to gains made by Ukraine in territory captured by Russia and the blowing up of a Russian made bridge connection with Crimea.

On the same day as the strikes, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks in Kazakhstan. Putin had previously offered to continue to send gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 2 but was rejected by European governments which have worked to remove their reliance on Russian energy over the past year.

During the meeting, Putin suggested Turkey could be used as a hub to deliver Russian gas to Europe. Meanwhile, Zelensky has urged President Biden and leaders of the other G7 industrialized countries for further support for Ukraine. If Western support for Ukraine remains in place there is a possibility to continue to make gains against Russian forces.

The UN General Assembly on October, 12, 2022 overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine. Only 35 nations abstained from the vote including China, India, Pakistan and South Africa.

15 European nations sign LoI to strengthen air and missile defence; defence ministers from NATO nations and Finland signed a Letter of Intent in Belgium.

Photo taken from: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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 Additionally, the defense ministers of 14 NATO countries, including recently joined Finland, signed a letter of intent to create a European air and missile defense system. The new air defense system further outlines the failure of Putin’s gamble to weaken the region’s unity and reduce NATO’s influence.

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