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Andreas Kluth

When, Why and How Putin Might Use Nukes

The newly prominent role of so-called tactical nuclear weapons puts the world in the greatest danger since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Let us never see this again.

Let us never see this again.

Photographer: Hulton Archive via Getty Images

We must assume that a man like Vladimir Putin is capable of anything, even the use of nuclear weapons. The Russian President has made abundantly clear that human life is worth nothing to him unless it’s his own. And there are scenarios in which he might calculate diabolically that launching one or more nukes could keep him in power and save his skin.

That’s because we’ve entered a world that, in strategic terms, resembles Europe in the volatile early years of the Cold War more than during its relatively stable later stages. The effect is to scrap old notions of deterrence and raise the risk of accidental nuclear Armageddon.