Publisher | Putin increases the threat

The decision of Vladimir Putin putting its nuclear forces on high alert is an unusual step in an escalation of a severity only potentially tempered by Russia’s and Ukraine’s willingness to engage in talks on the Belarusian border. If the Russian president crossed all the red lines when giving the attack order, that last turn of the screw is full of risks and takes the development of the war to a terrain that not even the most daring of analysts would have been able to foresee when registering the first bombings. Many of the assumptions considered by Putin and his generals before taking action fell short both in terms of the ukrainian resilience as in regard to the unity of the Western allies and the Economic sanctions adopted, so that this maximum alert is inseparable from that reality when the war adds up to six days.

The latest decisions taken by the United States and the European Union to isolate the Russian economy in all areas, with radical force, and the reaction of the international community to the aggression are behind this new challenge from the Kremlin. Because even assuming that the Russian Government has room for maneuver to successfully counter sanctions for a while and perhaps China can provide some shortcut to soften the impact of some of them, the damage produced will be of a higher order and the most vulnerable population will be the first to be affected.

Although Putin has branded the punitive measures as illegitimate by ordering the nuclear alert, in order to justify the escalation, this is the only possible response to a flagrant violation of international law, together with the decision this Sunday by the European partners of finance the purchase of weapons destined for Ukraine and close the airspace to Russian companies. With the additional ingredient that the Western allies are aware that they will not come out of the trance unscathed and that the recovery of their economies will suffer. They even share the conviction that the collapse of security caused by the invasion would have had a similar echo in the economic field if the sanctions had been softer.

It is not even possible to understand the progression in the escalation decided by Putin for his desire to displace emissaries to Belarus in a position of little less than unlimited strength. They already have this condition to the highest degree because to date it has been the Russian president who has marked the timesand the confrontation with the Ukrainian Army is so lopsided, even with last minute supplies from the West, that the decision to Volodymyr Zelensky of being willing to negotiate is inseparable from their reduced responsiveness on the battlefield. It is more likely to think that everything follows a script written in advance according to which every step taken is wanted to justify from Moscow with a non-existent threatwhich does not diminish the danger of Putin’s appeal to the nuclear arsenal.

Everything, in short, increases the fear that the aggression against Ukraine is the first chapter of a more ambitious plan, triggering a Domino effectwhose next foreseeable objectives may be Moldova and Georgia, until completing a buffer zone from Belarus to the Caucasus. A disturbing prospect, full of uncertainties for security and stability in Europe.

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