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Op-Ed: What’s the point? Russian tactical nukes drill near Ukraine border?

“What’s the point?” is a question Russia should have been asking for 120 years. It’s about time for an answer.

Russian drone attacks started blazes in Kharkiv
Russian drone attacks started blazes in Kharkiv - Copyright AFP Murtadha RIDHA
Russian drone attacks started blazes in Kharkiv - Copyright AFP Murtadha RIDHA

Just when you think it can’t get any stupider, this happens. Reports of Russian tactical nuke drills are raising the stakes in a lost war.

The recent Russian offensives have managed to occupy some meaningless spaces in the northeast. Military significance is minimal at best. What are they going to follow up these attacks with? Quotes from Ivan the Terrible’s Big Book of Dirty Jokes? Innuendo from the Hermitage?

They don’t have the troops to follow through. The current state of Russian troops in Ukraine is almost beyond belief. 70-year-old BTR armored vehicles are now part of the combat inventory.  

At least 400,000 Russians have gone to Ukraine, and many didn’t come back. They achieved little. The material damage to the Russian military and Russia’s reputation has been catastrophic.

The “few days war” is now well into a few years. That’s a pretty straightforward military equation. If you can’t do in years what you thought you could do in days, you have more than a problem. You have a major defeat.

Ukraine is a far worse defeat than Afghanistan. The Afghan war, which was the prelude to the fall of the Soviet Union, was very small beer indeed by comparison. In 10 years, Russia lost a maximum of 26,000 men. Compare that to any few months in Ukraine.  The Russians have never even been able to pretend to be winning in Ukraine.

The solution to this horrific self-inflicted disaster is to up the ante with nuclear drills. The inexcusable nuclear threat with inevitable retaliations is now policy, is it? Even the hint of any actual deployment of nukes will be a tipping point.  

The word “tactical” doesn’t discount the fact that these are nukes. The world won’t know or care about the difference.

This is a very strange position to take. Before the war, Russia wasn’t really even anyone’s idea of a compelling topic of conversation. It had a moment of sunlight, replaced with a “normal” opaque greyness like the Cold War image of Russia. There were a few incidents attributed to “Russia” in the headlines, and that was about all.  

The war has changed that. Russia’s various international activities got a lot more scrutiny. Constant tracking of Russian cyberwarfare over the decades and other issues got a lot more attention. Espionage and similar basic matters have also been getting belated coverage.

The infamous INFEKTION operation has been visible for years, and still doesn’t get much interest. INFEKTION’s role in the 2016 US election is a no-go subject for some reason. A virtual act of war against the US isn’t all that interesting, now, is it?

The role of Russian crime in international affairs has also been very much a center of attention. The net result of these not-very-new revelations has increased official hostility to Russia.

Nukes and threats of nukes tip the scales very much in favor of any anti-Russian lobby or initiatives on any subject. China won’t support use of nukes, and nor can it be forced to do so. China and the rest of the world have quite enough problems without World War 3, thanks for asking.

The US can use the threat as persuasive arguments against Russia. The ever-diminishing pro-Russian elements in US politics are shrinking visibly. Europe can use the same arguments to manage its small-time pro-Russian elements.

There’s a future to these issues, and the Russian people are as usual likely to be the lucky recipients of that future. In the last 120 years, Russia has had a lost war with Japan in 1905, a revolution, a civil war, two world wars, and a Cold War that it lost. It’s now fighting a war it can’t win and threatening World War 3 for “existential” reasons.

The Russian people have had lots of fun and merriment in that 120 years.  The unbelievable carnage and destruction have led to this. Russia’s people, culture and human rights have never had a moment’s peace.

“What’s the point?” is a question Russia should have been asking for 120 years. It’s about time for an answer.

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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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