Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Why Russia is unlikely to use nukes in Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine continues one question seems to be coming up repeatedly, will Russia use its nukes? Russia recently aired a video on state TV depicting a simulation of the detonation of nuclear weapons in the UK and Ireland. Although it is never calming to see another country threaten a nuclear attack it is almost certain that this video was aired as propaganda and not because Russia is genuinely planning to nuke the UK. It is highly unlikely that Russia will detonate a nuclear weapon during its war with Ukraine for several reasons.


One of the most obvious reasons is that should Russia detonate a nuclear weapon in Ukraine it may face nuclear repercussions. Although Ukraine itself does not have any nuclear weapons some countries supporting it do. It is also unlikely that Russia will engage in a nuclear attack against any countries supporting Ukraine, like the UK for example, because they do have nuclear weapons and therefor have second strike capabilities. 


If Russia were to detonate a nuclear weapon in this war, no matter where it was detonated, the world would be entering into another period like the cold war. There would be much mistrust between the United States and Russia and the countries would constantly be skeptical of one another. As Russia has proved that it will be the aggressor in countries like Ukraine a new cold war would likely involve countries besides Russia and the United States. Other European countries would be wary of Russia due to proximity and their invasion of Ukraine and would arm themselves in case of attack. This could potentially create a more volatile situation than was seen in the first Cold War.


Another issue that would face Russia if they used a nuclear weapon would be international backlash. Many countries around the world have come to the conclusion that nuclear weapons are too dangerous and costly to use in modern warfare, the use of one could lead to full scale nuclear war. If Russia were to detonate a nuclear weapon while at war with Ukraine it would become an international pariah. Many countries around the world would break relations with Russia and they would be placed under heavier sanctions than they are now. This means the use of a nuclear weapon would be very detrimental to the Russian economy as well as Russian foreign policy. 

Social Media and the war in Ukraine

            As the world moves forward war tactics are continually advancing. One can see this by comparing the wars of today to the world wars. Fighting styles and technologies have changed, leading to changes on battlefields.  In wars today we are seeing social media mentioned more and more often. While social media is not traditionally thought of as an instrument of war, over time it is being seen in war more often. Social media has also instigated wars in the past, the Arab Spring for example, would likely not have been as vast as it was without social media. Now, the world is currently watching the war between Russia and the Ukraine unfold and social media has already been utilized by both sides. So how is social media affecting the war in Ukraine?


            Some have begun to refer to Ukrainian and Russia social media presence as an information war. Both sides are posting glimpses of the war on social media, with the Ukrainians currently having the advantage. Social media has allowed stark and visceral depictions of the war to circulate the world, these social media posts have resonated with people around the world gaining support for Ukraine. Ukraine has been able to use social media to create an image for themselves of morally high and determined people while painting Russia as a ruthless aggressor. While it is true that Russia is the aggressor in this situation their lack of control over their image is hurting their cause. Russia itself is not utilizing social media in the same way that Ukraine is because Moscow is trying to hide the extent of the war. This prevents Russia from being able to portray themselves to the world in a better light. In this way social media has helped Ukraine find support around the world while making Russia look worse than it already did. 


            Aside from portraying an image or garnering support, social media also has other roles in war. Ukraine has used their social media platform to appeal for help around the world and has seen success in recruiting foreigners to help fight this way. Social media has also been used by activists to organize and plan. While none of these methods of social media use are particularly new to war, they do seem to be having a larger and larger impact with each new incident.