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Russia vs. USA: Is Putin Ready For A Nuclear War?

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As NATO tickles the Kremlin’s nerves by launching military drills on Russia’s doorstep, and the Kremlin, for its part, is preparing for the World War 2 victory celebrations on May 9, military analysts are evaluating the risks of a possible war between Russia and the West.

Russia has recently made the moves that can be interpreted as ‘threatening’ to the United States. Russia’s leadership has initiated a process to modernize all of its warheads as well as launch systems.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists report, Russia is posed to upgraded all of its strategic as well as nonstrategic nuclear weapons, which is a total of 4,500 warheads.

The Kremlin’s nuclear update process also includes the replacement of Soviet-era intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with new rocket launch systems and the developments of a cutting-edge deadly Borei-class ballistic missile submarine.

It will take Russia approximately ten years to upgrade two of its older ballistic missile submarine classes to the newly updated Borei class, which is likely to feature advanced electronics as well as other developments.

However, the US is not pulling up the rear. The US is also set to upgrade its nuclear forces and launch platforms in an aim to turn its arsenal into a more intimidating machine without the need to manufacture new warheads.

It is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that over the coming decade, the US’s nuclear plans will involve about $348 billion total. Although, with the rising threat from Russia’s side, the number might double or triple.

Tensions between NATO and Russia grow

The news come as NATO has recently ordered its forces to flex muscles on Russia’s doorstep by launching large-scale military drills, which will include thousands of troops and are taking place in Estonia, Lithuania (both the Baltic states) and Norway. The operation, which is codenamed Dynamic Mongoose, involves forces from the United States, Britain, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Sweden.

The military drills were launched on Monday and are expected to last for two weeks.

Will Russia, with its 2,000 units of military hardware and about 80,000 troops participating in the massive World War 2 victory parade May 9 in Moscow’s Red Square, be tempted to respond to such “threatening to Russian sovereignty” and “downplaying the Russia’s role in the world” moves?

ValueWalk asked this question one of the experts of ‘Voennaya Analitika’ analytic center, Ivan Shevchenko, who has also participated in the military operation against pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“As difficult as it might be for Russia to resist the temptation, I don’t believe Putin is ready to initiate an all-out war against Ukraine or any other neighboring state on May 9. In my opinion, Putin prefers doing everything gradually, as if he is hesitating at every step or thinking every step through – that is Putin’s tactic. And he’s good at it,” Shevchenko expressed his opinion.

Russia’s May 9 celebrations might include plotting against the US

While most of the Western – and not just Western – countries declined Putin’s invitation to take part in the World War 2 victory celebration in Moscow, it will include Cuba, the only American state to take part in the event, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Norway, all former Soviet states in the Asia-Eurasia region, and some other countries.

“The leaders who will be with Putin on the reviewing stand will not be mere guests,” wrote the opposition magazine The New Times. “For Russians it will be a map of the world which is able to confront American diktat.”

Shevchenko believes that while attending the parade, the countries that will be attending it are likely to gather for a group meeting in order to discuss “a possible cooperation plan against the US.”

“What we’ve seen during the past half a year is that Russia is not relying on its pro-Russian rebels as much as it relies on its diplomatic actions to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, the EU, and as a result, with the ‘domino effect’, in the US,” Shevchenko said.

US vs. Russia: Nuclear war = Possible

In Shevchenko’s opinion, a nuclear war between Russia and the US is not something that ‘will definitely happen’, but rather something that a few years ago was impossible but now turned out to be ‘possible’.

“When Western people look at Russia now, they see Putin all over it. Today, Putin is in every inch of Russia’s essence, and what he believes to be the next ‘right’ move, he will do it. And the world will have to deal with the consequences of one man’s doings. That, of course, if the West doesn’t stop him with non-military means, or military means for that matter, until it’s too late,” Shevchenko said.

However, according to Russia’s most influential foreign policy expert, Fyodor Lukyanov, Russia is not interested in annexing any more countries or testing NATO’s Article V, which means that all member-states would come to the aid of an attacked ally.

When Max Fisher, the foreign editor at Vox, asked Lukyanov about the possibility of “dangerous misunderstandings,” he said that the big conflict “might happen,” adding that “one step, another step, and reciprocity can become very dangerous.”

Lukyanov also stated that “Russia feels very vulnerable, although maybe a little bit less since the improvement of conventional forces.” And according to him, it is widely believed that the only guarantee for Russian security, sovereignty and existence is the nuclear deterrent.

The interview was concluded with Lukyanov saying that “in general” he doesn’t think Russian people “are in the mood of launching a war.”

“Rather, the perception is that somebody would try to undermine Russia as a country that opposes the United States, and then we will need to defend ourselves by military means.”

May 9 is near, and the question is: will Russia find “the need” to defend itself on this occasion? Will Putin view the absence of most of the world’s leaders at the parade as a ‘fascism encouraging’ action?

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