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“Nuclear weapons will be used immediately”: risks and scenarios for a war between Russia and NATO over Ukraine from RAND

“Nuclear weapons will be used immediately”: risks and scenarios for a war between Russia and NATO over Ukraine from RAND

In an urgent report RAND Corporation called possible direct war between NATO and Russia in the event of a clash between the forces of the alliance and the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine (report in PDF).

“The biggest risk that Russia decides to go directly to attack NATO allies will be that Moscow recognizes the inevitability of large-scale direct NATO attacks on the Russian Armed Forces,” the report says.

To the decision strike first at key allied forces Moscow will be driven both by the participation of NATO forces in operations in Ukraine and by the concentration of alliance troops near the borders of the Russian Federation in offensive configurations. For this tactical nuclear weapons will be immediately involved.

What could be the reason for the Kremlin to strike - the opinion of RAND risk analysts:

1. Political and media calls for war against the Russian Federation in the West - in Russia this can be regarded as preparing public opinion for a future attack. If, however, increased readiness or advanced deployment of long-range strike weapons is added to the media campaign, preventive strikes by the Russian Federation are possible.

2. Pulling up on the eastern flank of the alliance strike systems or long-range weapons capable of decapitating the military and political leadership of Russia.

3. A sharp increase in the number of military volunteers from NATO countries on the territory of Ukraine or a sharp increase in the supply of new types of weapons.

RAND recommendations:

1. Continue to say that they are not going to fight directly with the Russian Federation - through public and diplomatic channels.

2. Strengthen NATO's defensive capabilities in the east, but be wary of deploying long-range weapons.

3. Deploy new forces on the eastern flank gradually so as not to give the false impression of preparations for offensive operations.

4. Disperse and hide weapons storage sites for Ukraine so that Moscow does not have the opportunity to hit them with several blows.

5. Do not make statements about the change of power in Russia.

6. The prolongation of the conflict in Ukraine carries the risk of activating several of the described scenarios for the start of a war between Russia and NATO at once.

7. Escalation and direct conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO can arise from seemingly insignificant actions - escalation spirals between NATO and Russia can just as likely spin from the actions of the United States and its allies as from the actions of Russia.

For reference:

RAND is an American non-profit organization that serves as a strategic think tank for the US government and the Pentagon. Much of RAND's research is strictly classified.


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