Having failed in his initial effort to achieve a coup de main against Ukraine and his subsequent campaign to occupy territory in the east and south of that country, Russian president Vladimir Putin has figured out a way of winning by appearing to lose. His recent moves, announcing a partial mobilization and referenda in the occupied territories on their joining Russia, may be precursors to the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine. If Ukrainian troops, armed with an array of Western weapons, continue their counteroffensive, they will pose a threat to the Russian homeland in the form of its newly acquired territories. Putin will respond by doing what he has repeatedly warned he would do: employ nuclear weapons. Whether such a use is against a target in Ukraine or just a demonstration shot, the effects would be the same. Such a move would undoubtedly undermine Western support for Kyiv, given that the United States and NATO are virtually certain not to respond in kind. It could also lead to the collapse of the NATO alliance. In essence, Putin might win by losing. I have written more on this subject here.
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