Russian specialist Nikolai Sokov sees Moscow’s announcement that it will allow its nuclear forces to practice using nuclear weapons as “a signal to NATO.” He warns of a dangerous dynamic in which the parties to the conflict would outdo each other rhetorically and go “to extremes”.

Russian nuclear weapons expert Nikolai Sokov sees the announcement of a nuclear force exercise in Russia as a “sign to NATO”. “Such exercises, especially the handover of weapons from their warehouses to the armed forces, have taken place before, but they were not publicly communicated,” Sokov explained to Table.Briefings. In this respect, the public announcement is more important than the exercise itself.

Sokov, who helped negotiate several nuclear weapons treaties as an employee of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Ministries, now conducts research at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP). He warns against frivolous assumptions “increasingly popular in the West” that Russia will not use nuclear weapons “under any circumstances” or that “foreign forces on the territory of Ukraine will enjoy some kind of immunity.” This is absolutely wrong – they will be a priority target and that could trigger a serious escalation.”

This text first appeared at our partner Table.Media

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Monday morning that on the orders of President and Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, the armed forces would train in preparation for the use of nuclear weapons.

The exercise should take place promptly. The exercise was justified by statements by Western politicians such as French head of state Emmanuel Macron, among other things, to deploy ground troops in Ukraine.

Nikolai Sokov emphasized that the exercise with tactical nuclear weapons could also take place with the Kalibr guided missile, which, depending on the launch region, would have a range well into Western Europe. “We are unexpectedly entering a phase reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Sokov added.

“Announcements are being made and clear signals are being sent that should demonstrate determination to go ‘to the extreme’. This is a dangerous dynamic because any side that fears showing weakness will actually go ‘to extremes’.”

The EU has already sharply criticized the planned nuclear weapons exercise. “This is a continuation of Russia’s irresponsible behavior and further evidence that the Kremlin is only interested in further escalating the situation,” said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday in Brussels.

They call on Russia to stop “saber rattling” and to end its aggression against Ukraine.

The original for this article “Expert warns of dangerous dynamics because of Putin’s nuclear weapons” comes from Table.Media.