By LaBode Obanor
Following a series of humiliating losses and defeats on the battlefield, all of which are in Ukraine’s territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now threatening weapons of mass destruction on Ukraine and, by extension, the West if the trouncing of his military continues. In a televised address to his nation on Wednesday, he stated, “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will, without doubt, use all available means to protect Russia and our people – this is not a bluff,”
His statement came after he mobilized an additional three hundred thousand military reservists and issued a plan to annex a swathe of Ukraine’s territory the size of Hungary.
The threat of nuclear altercation has not been this ominous since the atomic era, a period after the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945. The Russian’s strongman, in his speech, seemed serious as his army continued to suffer setbacks in the invasion he orchestrated.
If Putin escalates this war and deploys nuclear warheads, chemical, bio, or whatever, the consequence will far eclipse Ukraine. The residue of his nuclear gambit will be dispersed in neighboring countries around Ukraine, significantly damaging a sizable portion of the Euro-Atlantic area, including a large area of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) territories clustered around Ukraine.
If this happens, NATO must join the war.
Article 5 of NATO’s treaty, in its “the principle of collective defense,” states in pertinent part: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them . . . shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking . . . such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
But why should NATO enter the war if Russia did not directly attack its member nation?
Because (1) the articles in the treaty that binds NATO did not delineate different responses to direct or indirect attacks, (2) the proliferation or deployment of weapons of mass destruction knows no border, and (3) In addition to conventional attacks, NATO has publicly stated that hybrid action against one or more allies could lead to a decision to invoke Article 5.
Hybrid warfare, according to NATO, is “propaganda, deception, sabotage, and other non-military tactics.” On its website, recently updated this past June, the organization stated that it “stands ready to defend the Alliance and all allies against any threat, whether conventional or hybrid.” Meaning either attack could trigger Article 5.
While dispersal of nuclear residue may not be considered a direct attack, it is lethal and provocative, rising above the level of hybrid to warrant a response from NATO.
If Russia deploys nuclear weapons in Ukraine, which consequently harms any NATO territories, including their citizens, this will undoubtedly be equivalent to an attack on NATO. If this happens, Article 5 must be invoked.
Ukraine is flanked by several NATO countries. Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are to the West, and to the south are Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. President Biden has vowed and repeatedly warned that the United States would join the conflict if any NATO member is attacked. He said in February during his State of The Union Address: “The U.S. will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American Power.” Since then, he has continued to reiterate this stand.
As stated above, Putin does not need to attack a NATO country directly. All he had to do to turn this war into a nuclear fracas was drop an atomic or chemical bomb on Ukraine, allow the wind to disperse the remnant to NATO countries, and he would have invited NATO to the battle. He has threatened to do just that and categorically stated to the West in his speech on Wednesday: “In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line. Putin stated, “And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them..this is not a bluff.”
His statement shows he is doubling down and will do anything to save face, including the detonation and setting off the nuclear weathervane in the direction of NATO.
Finally, germane to this subject matter is to state in unambiguous terms that If a nuclear warhead were to be released in any part of Ukraine, the radioactive fallout would devastate much of Eastern Europe, justifiably triggering a counter-response from NATO.
While the consequence of nuclear warfare is a terrifying prospect, possibly leading to a holocaust and likely the collapse of civilization, to do nothing is to embolden Putin and condemn all of Europe to forever be subservient to Putin. Thus, a decisive response against Putin is a risk that NATO should not hesitate to take if Putin made do with his threat.
We must not allow the world to be bullied by one adrenaline junky who thinks he can get away with threatening the right of others to exist or gleefully spreading mass destruction.