Russia is known for possessing a massive nuclear stockpile, with the Federation of American Scientists estimating that it includes nearly 4,500 warheads.
One expert recently said while concerns over those weapons led western countries to initially limit their aid to Ukraine, those fears are abating.
Nuclear threat low
That was the message international affairs analyst Malcolm Chalmers offered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this weekend.
Chambers serves as deputy director at a London-based defense think-tank called the Royal United Services Institute, and he recently said, “I think the risk of a nuclear threat right now is pretty low — as long as Russia feels it’s winning.”
He noted that although western observers say tens of thousands of Russian military personnel have died since the invasion began on February 24, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin continues to insist the “special military operation” is going well.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is continuing to wage a deadly war of attrition against its much larger neighbor. According to Fox News, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged earlier this month that his country is losing between 60 and 100 soldiers per day.
Chalmers suggested that an apparent lack of desperation on Russia’s part has led the United States and its allies to feel more comfortable about taking an aggressive stance.
“We started the war with this rather artificial distinction between defensive weapons, which were OK — anti-tank weapons — and offensive weapons like tanks which were not OK. And we’ve moved substantially beyond that,” he said.
Yet despite the reduced fears surrounding a nuclear confrontation, the possibility that such a conflict might break out is still a limiting factor.
“Now the United States is saying: ‘We’ll only supply particular weapons if they’re not used against Russia’s own territory,'” Chalmers explained
“What we haven’t seen is Ukrainian artillery strikes into Russian territory, into places that everybody recognizes as Russian,” he continued, adding, “That hasn’t happened and pretty clear signals from the United States that they are encouraging Ukrainians to stick to that red line.”
Further, Chalmers argued that nuclear weapons might well be deployed “if there is some sort of catastrophic collapse of Russian conventional capability — which could happen — and they begin to lose quite a lot of territory.”