👍 The Good: Russia is 'more fragile than we realise'
👎 The Bad: A catastrophic nuclear attack
😡 The Ugly: Putin's terrifying line of succession
Fears that Russia will launch a nuclear attack amid the war with Ukraine are escalating after President Vladimir Putin pledged to defend his country “with all the powers and means" at his disposal.
So is the situation as dire as it seems, or is there some kind of silver lining to be taken from Putin's latest threat?
Russia is 'more fragile than most people realise'
According to an expert in international security, Russia’s threat of nuclear action is simply “a mark of desperation".
“Great powers can unravel,” Professor John Blaxland from the Australian National University told Yahoo News Australia. “Russia is not invincible and it is more fragile than I think most people realise."
“While we need to be very circumspect because it remains a very angry, wounded bear with nuclear weapons, it is actually not that strong, it's not that resilient and has enormous vulnerabilities.”
Professor Blaxland also believes we should view Ukraine's ability to largely spurn Russia up until this point as a positive.
Ukraine has demonstrated “incredible resolve, leadership and professional prowess to push back against what should have been a far superior force.”
A nuclear strike would be catastrophic
While Professor Blaxland says a nuclear attack is unlikely, the “full spectrum” of weaponry at Putin’s disposal has the potential to be “catastrophic".
“He’s got a submarine launched, ballistic missiles, and short-range tactical nuclear weapons which can be launched from artillery tubes in Russian-held Ukrainian territory or fighter bombers,” he said.
“There are also ones with multiple warheads, designed to confuse the radars and missile detection systems, that fire off and then splits open and becomes multiple hits.”
While Professor Blaxland believes Russia may target the battlefield where the Ukrainian breakthrough is gaining momentum, he fears the country’s capital could be in the president’s sights.
“The uglier one [potential target] is the prospect of one going off in Kyiv. That’s the really ugly one. It would be a catastrophe.”
There's 'crazier' people than Putin waiting in the wings
For those that believe there is no worse tyrant than President Putin, Professor Blaxland warns we haven’t seen anything yet.
“We talk about Putin being mad as a cut snake,” he said, but those people to his right, if they come into power, God help us because they are really mad as cut snakes.”
“Putin is odious, there’s no question, but there are lots of other odious characters out there too who may see the world even more bleakly, and who are more prepared to use a higher level of violence than Putin.”
So while there is a well-planned chain of command in place for any Russian nuclear strike, it does little to alleviate fears that President Putin could be stopped.
“Even his inner circle know that this is his call, this is his blunder, and therefore, this is his catastrophe in the making,” Professor Blaxland said.
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