Do you remember the Russian demands before the whole Ukraine thing (war) started? Russia demanded that NATO exit Eastern Europe or else. Or else what? Or else Russia will use military-technical means to force an exit from all of Eastern Europe. That probably means cyber/military attacks.
The Russian blackmail [on Dec. 17, 2021] is explicit and is directed at both the Americans and the Europeans. If the West does not accept the Russian ultimatum, they will have to face “a military and technical alternative”, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko: “The Europeans must also think about whether they want to avoid making their continent the scene of a military confrontation. They have a choice. Either they take seriously what is put on the table, or they face a military-technical alternative.”
"In a word, Russia is demanding that NATO commit suicide, and that the United States be reduced to the role of a regional power."
Before the Ukraine war, Putin knew that eventually the Russian army would go head-to-head against NATO at some point. The Ukraine war was simply the beginning for all of Eastern Europe. Given that Russia is so bogged down in Ukraine, World War 3 is now being tossed around more and more. Should we be worried?
What is the path forward?
From the article:
But even as Russia bludgeons its way into limited gains in the east, it has lost so much already in the conflict, that it is acatastrophe for Russian national power. Indeed, some observers think Ukraine may win the war outright. But even if it holds bits of the conquered east and south, these are vastly outweighed by the war’s costs:
Ukraine will Shortly Have One of the Best Armies in Europe
NATO will Expand
Russia will be Badly Isolated
NATO’s New Sense of Purpose
All of these losses and setbacks vastly outweigh anything Putin might now win by conquest in Donbas. Ukraine will survive and become militarily capable of resisting Russia bullying. NATO will grow and deepen. Russia will drift into awkward isolation and dependence on China. That is quite an outcome for what was to be a quick little blitzkrieg.
What if Putin uses a tactical nuke in Ukraine? In most war game scenarios, a tactical nuke in Ukraine escalates into World War 3.
In war game simulations, Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine almost always escalates into World War 3.
... In the Guardian last month, Christopher S Chivvis at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote that in war game scenarios he had taken part in, which considered what would happen if Russia hit Ukraine with nuclear weapons, the only way of de-escalation was when “clear political off-ramps and lines of communication between Moscow and Washington have remained open. In all the other games, the world is basically destroyed.”
"Nina Khrushcheva, an academic whose great-grandfather was leader of the Soviet Union during the 1962 standoff, warned the conflict in Ukraine is more dangerous because neither side appears prepared to 'back off'."
The overall demands of Russia represent a significant change to the entire world order. The West can't back down. If Putin backs down then he is probably a dead man. Hence, the only path is forward which probably means escalation.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov:
"The danger [of nuclear war] is serious, real, and we must not underestimate it."
The war in Ukraine is about much more than Ukraine. Putin is more likely to use nukes than accept defeat in Ukraine, but he is currently losing thanks to NATO help. The danger of nuclear war and World War 3 is serious.