War, they tell us, is the unfolding of misjudgment. Wladimir Putin made the first by completely overestimating his own power and underestimating that of Ukraine. But there is a danger that a serious misinterpretation of the threats could lead to an even more serious miscalculation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned of the “real” danger of the outbreak of World War III. “The danger is serious, real. That shouldn’t be underestimated,” he said yesterday.
He compared current danger levels to those of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the US and Soviet Union were on the verge of nuclear war, and said Moscow and Washington understood the rules of conduct between the superpowers.
“Now there are few rules,” he added.
Of course, Mr. Lavrov has rung that alarm bell before. He generally goes on to claim that Russia’s “principle” position is that nuclear war is “inadmissible.”
Some may think we’ve heard all of this before, but ignoring the warnings would be a grave mistake.
It was Napoleon Bonaparte who advised, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” And President Putin has made several. His decision-making is anything but solid.
He wasted thousands of Russian lives for no gain. With the pressure building intense ahead of the Victory Day Parade in Russia on May 9, he desperately needs a win.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has denounced Moscow’s “escalating rhetoric” while the Kremlin’s claim that NATO is using Ukraine to wage a proxy war is disingenuous.
In any confrontation, an enemy’s enemy is always seen as a friend.
Putin’s longstanding goal has been to destroy Ukraine as a nation and cut it off from the Black Sea. However, this hasty, ill-prepared invasion in hopes of gaining prestige has gone dangerously sideways.
Washington’s view is that the post-war security enjoyed since 1945 could be jeopardized if Moscow gets away with biting off much of Ukraine for free.
Russia has already had to radically scale back its initial war aims. While it may still gain territory in the Donbass, military analysts believe Russia’s ability to conduct offensive operations is running out of time. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland appear poised to join NATO, which appears to be the complete opposite of Putin’s strategic goals.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has visited Moscow to meet the Russian President. His declared aim is to “create the conditions for a peaceful solution”. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of progress.
With Germany making a major policy shift by pledging to supply Ukraine with 50 anti-aircraft tanks, averting the worst is still a priority. But while Moscow’s warning that supplying military aid to Ukraine could trigger World War III probably went unheeded, we can hardly ignore their threat.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/kremlins-nuclear-warning-can-not-just-be-shrugged-off-41590995.html The Kremlin’s nuclear warning cannot simply be dismissed