By Paul Goble
The West has provided limited assistance to Ukraine assuming that to move more quickly could lead Putin to use nuclear weapons; but this policy is wrong because that assumption is, Aleksandr Skobov says. If the West is to prevent Putin from going nuclear, it must change course, seize the initiative, and show him just how dangerous his policies are.
Putin has long pursued a policy of “escalation for the sake of escalation,” and he will continue to do so unless he is removed or unless he concludes that escalation will be more dangerous to him and his regime than not, the Moscow commentator says. So far, he sees no reason to draw that conclusion (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=632AF4126A2A2).
If the West is to prevent Putin from using nuclear weapons, it must pursue not a gradual upping of the ante which the Kremlin leader will counter by raising the stakes until the West blinks but rather a significant increase in its commitment to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression and to defeat Russia in this war, the longtime Kremlin critic says.
“The attempts of the leaders of the West to avoid escalation and their refusal to be drawn directly into participation in the war but instead to draw it out and thus exhaust the resources of the Kremlin Hitler … is a mistaken strategy,” Skobov argues. “It will not stop him and will not cause him to refuse to use his ‘final argument,’” that is, nuclear weapons.
If the West continues as it is and if Russian generals don’t oust him, Skobov says, “the likelihood of his using nuclear weapons is very high. And if civilization doesn’t intend to surrender and submit to the Kremlin Hitler’s ‘new world order,’ it must b ready to pay the price for this in the form of an exchange of nuclear strikes.”
But “if anything can keep the Hitler in the Kremlin from using nuclear weapons, it will not be an effort to avoid escalation at any cost but precisely by means of the opposite strategy,” he argues. The West must “seize the initiative” regarding escalation and demonstratively “crossing all ‘the red lines’” he has been trying to draw.
In this connection, Skobov concludes, the statements today by Western leaders about their plans not to recognize Putin’s fake referendums in Ukrainian reasons aren’t “sufficient.” More forceful steps are needed, not only involving sanctions but a commitment on the battlefield.
Doing that now is far less dangerous as far as a nuclear exchange is concerned than trying to avoid it regardless of what Putin does.