News - El Pais

Is Putin Willing to Press the Nuclear Button? Keys to Understanding the Kremlin’s Strategy

| Mar. 03, 2022

The Russian president has put the army’s deterrence forces on ‘special mode of combat duty,’ but experts are divided on whether he is really prepared to act on his threats against Ukraine.

Francesca Giovannini, the executive director of the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science, believes that the nuclear option, while improbable, should not be completely ruled out. “The circumstances are very complex,” she argues. “And he [Putin] is under a huge amount of pressure.”

And then there are the extreme circumstances of the moment. “I think that he is under huge internal pressure,” says Giovannini. “He’s not crazy. I don’t think that he would launch a strategic bomb. But it worries me that he could consider the option of a tactical one. To send a message that he is prepared to do anything to defend Russian interests. Thinking that perhaps an attack with a tactical warhead in Ukraine would not trigger a military reaction from NATO against Russia.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Is Putin Willing to Press the Nuclear Button? Keys to Understanding the Kremlin’s Strategy.” News, El Pais, March 3, 2022.