Sergei Karaganov, who has served as a presidential adviser in the Kremlin both under Boris Yeltsin as well as Vladimir Putin, is making the case that Russia should lower the threshold for nuclear weapons use. His reasoning stems from the perspective that intellectual and moral degradation has Western elites dead set on escalation in its Ukraine proxy war, not just in an attempt to "weaken" Russia, but eyeing its destruction.
This may well lead to global thermonuclear war. If there is to be an end to this conflict, it will require the Washington-led side’s capitulation, he argues. NATO leaders must once again fear nuclear weapons for their own survival.
Karaganov, the Honorary Chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, is said to still be close to Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. His argument, published by Russia in Global Affairs, begins by highlighting extreme difficulties which may arise in the event that Moscow secures partial victories or even the complete "liberation" of Ukraine.
He assesses that "liberating" and "reincorporating" into the Russian Federation the largely pro-Russian east and south of current-day Ukraine, followed by the "complete demilitarization and the creation of a friendly buffer state" is only possible if the West’s will is broken and NATO makes a strategic retreat. This is where the nukes question arises.
The former Putin adviser’s analysis is that Ukraine has been exploited as a "striking fist" by ruling Western elites who see the writing on the wall that their long-held military, economic, political, and cultural hegemony is rapidly slipping away.
Kiev’s role in the conflict, therefore, is to tie Moscow’s hands, or even "blow [Russia] up." Moscow is the "military-political core" of the non-Western world where the global balance of power has been rapidly shifting, driven economically by China and, to a lesser extent, India, Karaganov writes.
He also emphasizes that this is being done in order to weaken Washington’s rival superpower, China, before a war breaks out between the world’s two largest economies. This is strikingly similar to what retired US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as secretary of state Colin Powell’s chief of staff, told Russia expert James Carden last year. "[The White House is] extremely desirous of a protracted conflict [in Ukraine] because they want to effect regime change in Moscow, destabilize Russia and then take on China. That is their long-term geopolitical strategy," Wilkerson warned.
Fear of nuclear weapons has tragically abated, Karaganov charges. It has been more than three quarters of a century since Washington bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing civilians by the hundreds of thousands. Such an extended interim had led the West to forget that "hell" exists.
They have become catastrophically cavalier about the risks entailed with NATO’s proxy war against Russia, Karaganov continues. "That fear [which ensured relative peace] is gone…in a fit of desperate rage, the ruling circles of a group of countries have unleashed a full-scale war in the underbelly of a nuclear superpower."
Thus, Russia’s military operation may go on for years, attempting to finish subduing Ukraine, but the conflict cannot end until the West is forced into this strategic retreat "or even surrender… compelling it to give up [Washington’s] attempts to reverse history and preserve global dominance, and to focus on itself and its current multilevel crisis." Karaganov fears that unless Russia does the unthinkable, the US will go on supporting a low-level civil war indefinitely in Ukraine, even if Moscow takes the whole country.
Karaganov believes Russia will be required to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, in order to once again arouse in Washington, London, and Brussels this discarded "instinct of self-preservation." The threshold is currently set "unacceptably high." Russia can rectify this situation "by rapidly but prudently moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder." The first steps have been taken, claims Karaganov, namely the deployment of tactical nuclear bombs and their carriers to Belarus as well as the "increased combat readiness of strategic deterrence forces."
Russia’s choice to station tactical nukes in Belarus was a direct response to London’s provision to Kiev of Challenger 2 tanks armed with depleted uranium munitions, linked to cancers and birth defects. The US may soon follow in the UK’s footsteps, sending the controversial ammunition which the Kremlin has compared to a dirty bomb.
There are more steps which can be taken such as issuing an evacuation warning to Russian "compatriots and all people of goodwill" living near facilities in NATO countries Moscow may target.
By building a "correct strategy of intimidation and deterrence and even use of nuclear weapons," the risk of "retaliatory" strikes can be minimized, Karaganov theorizes. "Only a madman, who, above all, hates America, will have the guts to strike back in "defense" of Europeans, thus putting his own country at risk and sacrificing Boston [Massachusetts] for Poznan [Poland]. Both the U.S. and Europe know this very well, but they just prefer not to think about it. We have encouraged this thoughtlessness ourselves," he adds.
Only a forced "catharsis" will bring the deluded Western elites back to Earth, Karaganov opines. If the anti-Russian Western crusade persists, if they have lost the instinct of self-preservation entirely and refuse to back down, "[Russia] will have to hit a bunch of targets in a number of countries." This will be imperative, according to Karaganov, "in order to bring those who have lost their mind to reason."
Neocon Think Tanker Proposes Arming Kiev With Nuclear Weapons
Alarmingly, talk of abandoning our fear of nuclear war and arming Ukraine with their own nukes is gaining steam in Washington. The neoconservative American Enterprise Institute recently published an article by Michael Rubin, the ardent Russia hawk, which expressed this viewpoint. Rubin believes Ukraine would have fared far better in the war already, had the US not succumbed to concerns over Russian escalation including the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Rubin argues against peace talks, ceasefires, and concessions, citing Henry Kissinger daring to suggest a compromise may be in order that would come "even at the expense of allowing Putin to retain Crimea and other Ukrainian territory." This would only reward aggression, according to Rubin.
"If Putin loses or is humiliated, the logic goes, he might lash out with tactical nuclear weapons." This should not phase us, Rubin says, we should pledge to arm Kiev with nuclear weapons, in the event of a Russian nuclear strike, "without any controls on where and how Ukraine might use them."
With disdain, Rubin categorically dismisses any outrage or objections which may be uttered by the "non-proliferation mafia." He argues America’s nuclear policy must conform with "reality, not wishful thinking."
Allowing Putin to cow us out of pursuing a Ukrainian victory, come what may, is unacceptable. It will lead Putin to strike other countries including NATO member states. "So long as Ukraine was on the verge of victory, Putin would arrive at this point of nuclear retaliation. To self-deter and hand Russia a victory would be immoral and unwise. For Putin, an adversary’s fear is as addictive as cocaine. Should he sense White House fear might bring triumph, he would take another snort: his provocations would only increase, not only against Ukraine but also against Moldova and the Baltic States."
The White House must be emphatic, Rubin demands, much as it was "during the Cold War, the best way to deter nuclear weapons use is to demonstrate a willingness to use them."
Despite the fanciful language on both sides, these foreign policy apparatchiks are advocating for policies which will undoubtedly lead to global nuclear war. Since the US unilaterally tore up the Anti-ballistic missile treaty, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and Open Skies, the 21st century arms race has been barreling ahead with no end in sight. For decades, Washington’s expansionism has driven us inexorably towards disaster.
The US government should be forced by its citizenry to cease its mammoth military aid to Kiev and drag President Volodymyr Zelensky to the negotiating table. The White House has previously derailed promising negotiations during the first months of the war, the administration should now make Zelensky re-enter peace talks with Russia regardless of which country brokers the talks. This can be achieved by the US getting out of the way and leveraging any further economic or diplomatic support for the Kiev regime.
Despite Kiev’s intransigence, there are countless countries in the peace camp, desperately trying to broker negotiations between the warring sides. But the Joe Biden administration is completely committed to a "very violent fight, [that] will likely take a considerable amount of time," as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley declared in Brussels on Thursday.
Secretary of State Blinken has vowed the US will not support a ceasefire and will continue the proxy war indefinitely. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland are calling for attacks on Crimea and the peninsula’s complete demilitarization respectively.
The next step is upgrading NATO’s ties with Kiev and putting Ukraine on the path to full membership in the bloc, which will be discussed at the upcoming alliance summit in Vilnius. Biden has greenlit the delivery of US-made F-16 fighter bombers to Ukraine and his administration is said to have shrugged off the risks of Kiev’s massive escalations in cross-border raids and drone strikes inside Russia.
Last month, a militia made up of neo-Nazis fighting for Kiev invaded the Russian mainland assaulting civilians and infrastructure in the Belgorod region neighboring Ukraine. The militia was using US and NATO weaponry.
In Congress, there are calls emanating from both parties to expedite battle tank deliveries as well as to provide Kiev with cluster bombs and long range missiles. The Russia hawk, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has said even if Kiev attacks the Russian mainland with American F-16s, he would not care.
Already, the CIA is reportedly conducting sabotage attacks against Russian infrastructure and the Pentagon has tacitly endorsed Kiev’s drone strikes hundreds of miles deep inside the Russian mainland.
Even if nothing changes even with regards to the so-called nuclear taboo, it may soon become apparent that Washington has already crossed the Rubicon.
Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com, Counterpunch, and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96.