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Bjays92

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Where is the benefit? The Ukriane army/military doesn't seem to fight in large battalion sized groups. I'm sure their military is probably composed of such groups structurally but they certainly don't seem to fight on mass like the Russians do. Maybe I'm missing something but I've litterally never see a single video of their forces moving in large columns like the Russians do, which makes for easy ambush targets when performing offensive maneuvers. It seems pretty obvious that they avoiding moving en massw like that to avoid being easy targets for Russian air and missile strikes.

A tactical nuke is most useful when facing and outnumbered by a large mass of troops and armor. As awe-inspiring as nuclear weapons are I don't see a how single nuclear bomb, especially only a smaller tactical one changes the overall course or narrative of the war in any situation for the Russians. Yet the use of one is a huge provocation and is much more likely to be crossing Nato's red line as well as losing the support of Russia's few uncoerced allies. Would China and India just be total fine and ok with Russia lobbing nuclear bombs around? It seems like such a play and the reverberating effects of it is a much more riskier propostion than its worth, and makes no sense while Russia thinks it can still win conventionally. That's disregarding all the negative on-field effects, it would render the area uninhabitable from a strategic stand point for some time and worse yet Russian forces or cities might actually suffer the brunt of the radiological effect depending on how close such an attack is to their positions/land and which direction the wind is blowing. The contested regions seem much too close in both respects for that action.
I should clarify, I totally agree it makes zero sense, and the odds of Russia actually doing something like that are low. But invading Ukraine also made no sense and here we are, so I'm not giving Putin the benefit of the doubt when it comes to strategic decision-making.

That said, my original point was simply to highlight the scenarios in which NATO could get drawn into the conflict and what that might look like, it was not trying to imply these things had a high likelihood of happening.
 

Lone Primate

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No it doesn't but from a realpolitik sense it would. The current global leaders cannot allow any countries to use nukes in any context, that opens a can of worms that can never be shut.

Countries like North Korea and Iran would be overjoyed should a tactical nuke be able to use without provoking a full scale war. I can see no way in which it would be allowed to happen without going to war with Russia, because not doing so is arguably more dangerous.
I have to disagree. Realpolitik is about the art of the possible, and if you want there to be a planet Earth to live on next week, going tit-for-tat with Russia in nuclear exchanges would not give you that result.

Russia is not North Korea. North Korea is not Russia.

North Korea has, at least at the moment, a tiny arsenal that can menace South Korea, or Japan, or Taiwan, but probably not any more than one of them at a time.

Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Frankly, as we've seen, it's about all they've got. They know it, and now we know it, and they know we know it. So this is a very touchy moment.

If Russia uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, what's our response? Do we use an American, British, or French tactical nuke in Ukraine? Then a little back-and-forth a few times? Even if both sides managed, somehow, to limit the scope to Ukraine, how exactly would we be "saving" and "liberating" Ukraine by turning it into an ashtray the size of Alberta? Millions or tens of millions of Ukrainians (and their neighbours) dead or unable to ever live in the country again, for what? So they don't have to knuckle under to the Russians for a few generations? Speaking for myself, I'd rather be alive to work toward a better future for my grandchildren than turn the country, or perhaps the whole world, into a place where there never are any more grandchildren ever again.

Or is the answer that we fire a weapon into Russia itself? And do you really think they won't destroy Warsaw, and/or Prague, and/or Bucharest in response? And then we destroy St. Petersburg, and Moscow, and Vladivostok... And shortly after that, the world comes to an end. There is nothing "arguably more dangerous" than that.

Russia is not North Korea. It is certainly not Iran. It's Russia. The rules for engaging your opponent are not one-size-fits-all. Realpolitik is not equal opportunity. It's about pragmatism. If Russia does use a tactical nuclear weapon, we need to deal with that on the basis we're dealing with one of the very few countries on Earth that can currently end the world. We'll worry about what our response says to pipsqueaks North Korea another day. If there is another day.
 

Bjays92

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I have to disagree. Realpolitik is about the art of the possible, and if you want there to be a planet Earth to live on next week, going tit-for-tat with Russia in nuclear exchanges would not give you that result.

Russia is not North Korea. North Korea is not Russia.

North Korea has, at least at the moment, a tiny arsenal that can menace South Korea, or Japan, or Taiwan, but probably not any more than one of them at a time.

Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Frankly, as we've seen, it's about all they've got. They know it, and now we know it, and they know we know it. So this is a very touchy moment.

If Russia uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, what's our response? Do we use an American, British, or French tactical nuke in Ukraine? Then a little back-and-forth a few times? Even if both sides managed, somehow, to limit the scope to Ukraine, how exactly would we be "saving" and "liberating" Ukraine by turning it into an ashtray the size of Alberta? Millions or tens of millions of Ukrainians (and their neighbours) dead or unable to ever live in the country again, for what? So they don't have to knuckle under to the Russians for a few generations? Speaking for myself, I'd rather be alive to work toward a better future for my grandchildren than turn the country, or perhaps the whole world, into a place where there never are any more grandchildren ever again.

Or is the answer that we fire a weapon into Russia itself? And do you really think they won't destroy Warsaw, and/or Prague, and/or Bucharest in response? And then we destroy St. Petersburg, and Moscow, and Vladivostok... And shortly after that, the world comes to an end. There is nothing "arguably more dangerous" than that.

Russia is not North Korea. It is certainly not Iran. It's Russia. The rules for engaging your opponent are not one-size-fits-all. Realpolitik is not equal opportunity. It's about pragmatism. If Russia does use a tactical nuclear weapon, we need to deal with that on the basis we're dealing with one of the very few countries on Earth that can currently end the world. We'll worry about what our response says to pipsqueaks North Korea another day. If there is another day.
We clearly see this from a different perspective so agree to disagree. I do appreciate your detailed responses though!
 

kEiThZ

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Russia is not North Korea. North Korea is not Russia.

You would not say this if you listened to what Russian nationalists say. They actually do openly talk of nuclear war. And the mentality is that a world without a dominant Russia is not a world worth living in.





There's a certain naivete among Westerners that the Russians are just like us and think just like us. Life in Russia absolutely sucks. They don't have a lot to live for. A big part of why they are signing to risk their lives for a chance to loot a bit in Ukraine. There's a sizeable chunk of them who would have no issues losing Moscow and St. Petersburg just to give the West a pin prick.

This also makes Russian nuclear doctrine predictable. Why waste good nukes when they have so many dumb brainwashed poors ready to be cannon fodder? All their dumb bluster aside, their nukes aren't for national security and deterrence. They are for protection of the regime. To that end, Putin may talk a lot. And he may use chemical weapons in Ukraine. He won't use nukes though. He'll save that for if he thinks western forces are actually coming for him.
 
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kEiThZ

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If you want to understand how the average Russian thinks, just imagine the USA, but with 75% of the population supporting Trump and exclusively watching Fox News. That should provide a rough approximation.
 

Bjays92

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You would not say this if you listened to what Russian nationalists say. They actually do openly talk of nuclear war. And the mentality is that a world without a dominant Russia is not a world worth living in.





There's a certain naivete among Westerners that the Russians are just like us and think just like us. Life in Russia absolutely sucks. They don't have a lot to live for. A big part of why they are signing to risk their lives for a chance to loot a bit in Ukraine. There's a sizeable chunk of them who would have no issues losing Moscow and St. Petersburg just to give the West a pin prick.

This also makes Russian nuclear doctrine predictable. Why waste good nukes when they have so many dumb brainwashed poors ready to be cannon fodder? All their dumb bluster aside, their nukes aren't for national security and deterrence. They are for protection of the regime. To that end, Putin may talk a lot. And he may use chemical weapons in Ukraine. He won't use nukes though. He'll save that for if he thinks western forces are actually coming for him.
I raise this as merely a question. What if Putin genuinely thinks Western forces are coming for him through Ukraine? The west is walking a fine line and who really knows what Putin will view as a declaration of war. There's already chatter that foreign fighters are just a cover for western military intervention, or that the west is fighting with "the nazi's" in Mariupol. What is Putin willing to do to guarantee his victory by May 9th?

I think Putin would blow up a nuclear reactor in Ukraine long before he uses a nuke there himself, but does that elicit a similar response?

Also, to respond a little more to Lone Primate, the western approach to war is not the same as Russia's. Say Russia uses a nuke or chemical weapons in Ukraine. That may trigger more direct western involvement but we would not respond in kind. If we attacked Russia itself, it wouldn't be to flatten cities or engage in siege warfare, it would be to strategically eliminate significant targets, that's how modern warfare is fought. One of the many reasons Russia is failing so badly is because they're stuck in the 1940's where a massive ground force lead by tanks and artillery can brute force their way through a country. So the idea that we would be exchanging volleys of nuclear weapons, regardless of the circumstances, feels very unlikely to me, even if Russia were to utilise such weapons.
 

Lone Primate

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You would not say this if you listened to what Russian nationalists say... There's a certain naivete among Westerners that the Russians are just like us and think just like us....
I'm not naive about it at all; quite the opposite. We're not dealing with a little country that shakes a little nuclear sword to get more pie. That's North Korea. Russia is a country whose people still imagine themselves the peer of the United States in particular and NATO in general. Outside of the size of their nuclear arsenal, the plain fact is they're not, but they think they are, and they're determined to act like they are, that makes them dangerous. We cannot treat them the way we'd treat a country with a few dozen nuclear weapons. Russia can—all by itself—end civilization; perhaps even life on Earth.

When you say "He'll save that for if he thinks western forces are actually coming for him,", I'd tend to agree. But in his mind, "western forces are actually coming for him" can take a lot of different forms. It doesn't have to be as overt as tanks and planes actually crossing the Bug River. If he feels threatened by his own people because he's losing, he's apt to put that down to external pressure for regime change; and either to bolster his numbers at home and/or to warn the West off, it's not impossible he'd use a tactical nuclear strike in Ukraine out of desperation to hold onto what he's gained so he can claim a victory of sorts.

I've been largely taking issue with the idea that we should be more closely involved. As far as I'm concerned, we're skating the edge as it is. Like it or not, Russia's not obliged to read our intentions the way we want them to, or respond in a way we'd find appropriate. We have to be very careful in walking a line between abandoning Ukraine on the one hand and provoking Russia into something none of us want to see on the other. So far, we've been managing it reasonably well. Ukraine has held the line and even rolled back some of Russia's gains, and Russia hasn't crossed any lines so far that oblige us all to respond under Article 5.

To say that Russians would gladly lose Moscow and St. Petersburg, historic cities of great pride, just to give the West "a pin prick" is unutterably mistaken. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about history knows that. The Russians torched everything in Napoleon's advance to make taking and holding Moscow untenable for him. Leningrad—St. Petersburg—held out to the point of cannibalism rather than surrender to the Germans in World War II, and they prevailed. That was all 80 years ago, well in advance of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union and Russia. We can't imagine straying more than a few miles into Russia before nukes would be on the table, if not actually used. By the same token, we have to make it clear the same is the case for us.

My hope initially was that the Russians would oppose Putin's war simply because they felt sympathetic to another Slavic people, but evidently the snub of Ukraine's leaving the Soviet Union and the notion Ukraine isn't a "real" country or "real" culture and that they're just "Little Russians" who speak the language badly is deep in the bone. I have a friend in St. Petersburg who's planning to move to Toronto who's casually expressed the same opinions. So what it comes down to is that we simply have to apply sanctions deep and hard and make it impossible in a practical sense for Russia to pursue the war. Deny them the means. That might mean letting them consolidate the gains they've made in eastern Ukraine; there might be nothing we can really do about that. Frankly, it's hard to see a quick, easy way out of this. The plain fact seems to be that we've slid back into the Cold War again, and things are going to be like this for the foreseeable future. If you're over 45, you know the drill. If you're not, read some history.
 

Lone Primate

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If we attacked Russia itself, it wouldn't be to flatten cities or engage in siege warfare, it would be to strategically eliminate significant targets, that's how modern warfare is fought.
Do you actually believe the Russians are going to make a distinction? That they're going to say "Oh, well, they just destroyed tens of thousands of our own soldiers and their weapons right here on Russian soil, but at least they didn't vapourize Novgorod"? They're not. No matter what we hit, they're going to see it as an attack on Russia, plain and simple, and they're respond. And it's very unlikely that response will be nuanced just because we happen to feel our attack was. Please put it out of your mind. Any attack on Russia directly by us is World War III. Period. With everything that that implies.
 

kEiThZ

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I've been largely taking issue with the idea that we should be more closely involved.

How far you willing to take this?

Next up, he tells NATO to surrender the Baltics and Poland (the country on a path to surpass Germany as the regional power) and threatens nuclear war. Should we just walk way from them too?

Legitimizing nuclear blackmail is a hell of an idea. And probably a recipe for both nuclear proliferation and the end of democracy as we know it.

I say treat this exactly like any proxy Cold War fight. If Putin wants he can try and interdict supply lines at the Polish and Romanian borders.
 

Richard White

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How far you willing to take this?

Next up, he tells NATO to surrender the Baltics and Poland (the country on a path to surpass Germany as the regional power) and threatens nuclear war. Should we just walk way from them too?

Legitimizing nuclear blackmail is a hell of an idea. And probably a recipe for both nuclear proliferation and the end of democracy as we know it.

I say treat this exactly like any proxy Cold War fight. If Putin wants he can try and interdict supply lines at the Polish and Romanian borders.

I think Star Trek said it best..

www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxSXExwNXoUoZrj1ETZUhyIXJXAOsmtPBL
 

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