An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California at 11:01 p.m. On February 25, 2016. The unarmed Minuteman III missile blasted off from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late on Thursday, headed toward a target area near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. REUTERS/Kyla Gifford/U.S. Air Force Photo/Handout via Reuters
Why Putin Went Straight for the Nuclear Threat

Co-authored by Jonathan Stevenson

The Biden administration has done an admirable job checking Russian disinformation efforts by disclosing U.S. intelligence assessments of Moscow’s intentions and marshaling unified political support for Ukrainian sovereignty and indirect military support for its defense.

But the administration has spoken out when it might have kept silent about Russia’s implicit threat to use nuclear weapons. In President Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing the invasion, he stated that anyone who “tries to stand in our way” will face consequences “such as you have never seen in your entire history.” He ordered his defense minister to put Russia’s nuclear forces on alert. It may have been implicit, but the threat was clear.

In response to Mr. Putin’s threat, the president and his advisers have said repeatedly and emphatically that the United States is deterred from acting in ways that might bring U.S. or other NATO forces into contact with Russian troops. President Biden himself has said that “we will not fight the third world war in Ukraine.”

The United States and NATO should be less deferential to Mr. Putin’s attempt to wield the threat of nuclear weapons — not only for the sake of supporting Ukraine but also to ensure global geopolitical stability in the future.

Read the full article in The New York Times.

More from