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James Stavridis

Putin Won't Use a Nuke. Chemical Weapons, Maybe.

The Russian leader fears escalation he can’t control, and has other options to terrify Ukraine and intimidate the West.

What’s he thinking?

What’s he thinking?

Photographer: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

As a former military commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I do a lot of speaking in the US and internationally about the war in Ukraine. The question I get asked most frequently is terrifying and simple: “Would Vladimir Putin use a nuke?” 

Fortunately, I think the odds of the Russian president doing so are extremely low. But as this terrible conflict grinds on, it is worth examining the question: What is stopping Putin from nuclear aggression?