Russia's disadvantage with nuclear threat
  • Russia and Ukraine become more fragile after 7 months of fighting
  • Russia’s disadvantage with nuclear threat

Herb Boyd, a lecturer at the University of New Rochelle, said the results show that the cost of the protracted war in Ukraine is starting to affect American thinking.

This may be one of the driving forces pushing the parties towards the path of diplomatic negotiations.

“Like the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the importance of any agreement is to have a common purpose and terms agreed upon by all parties.

Although there are very different views between Moscow, Kiev and the West, there are common goals that the parties can achieve, even if it is only to prevent the situation from escalating, causing further harm to the parties,” Chausovsky said.

The Black Sea Grains Initiative could provide a useful framework to prevent conflict escalation Ukraine, according to observers.

Turkey has made no secret of its desire to broker a larger ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.

Ankara hopes the experience from successful grain initiative negotiations and the recent prisoner exchange it brokered can be leveraged for this goal.

Success in mediation even on relatively minor issues can help lay the groundwork for future de-escalation.

“Of course, mediating territorial issues and ensuring security is a much bigger challenge, and it is likely that both Russia and Ukraine will not come to the negotiating table when they are trying to gain an advantage on the battlefield,” Chausovsky said.

“However, the latest developments have put the Ukrainian conflict at a crossroads, with a serious risk of escalation on the one hand and an opportunity for a diplomatic solution on the other.”

Although hopes of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine become more fragile after 7 months of fighting, analysts believe that this door is not completely closed.

The war in Ukraine is entering a new and potentially much more dangerous phase. After the Ukrainian military received additional Western support and launched a blitzkrieg in the Kharkov region, Russia is making new escalations.

President Vladimir Putin on September 21, it ordered partial mobilization to mobilize some 300,000 reservists to Ukraine, warning that Moscow could use “all instruments of varying degrees of destruction” to protect its “territorial integrity,” referring to nuclear weapons.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev later noted that Putin’s warning was not an “empty threat.”

Pro-Russian authorities in Ukraine’s 4 regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Lugansk and Donetsk announced on September 27 that it had completed a referendum with a majority of voters choosing to annex Russia.

The Kremlin announced that Putin would sign a decree formally annexing Ukrainian territories on September 30.

“All of these moves indicate a serious escalation of the Ukrainian conflict,” said Eugene Chausovsky, a senior political analyst at the Newlines Institute in the United States.

He warned that as soon as Russia annexes 4 Ukrainian territories, a further escalation of hostilities is “inevitable”.

President Volodymyr Zelensky Said Ukraine would not negotiate with Russia after Moscow held a referendum.

Meanwhile, Putin said Russia is still ready to negotiate with Ukraine, but added that the conditions for negotiations will change according to the actual situation.

Although peace talks between the two countries have stalled since late March, observers say international mediation efforts in the conflict have not been in vain.

Typical of this effort is the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement signed by Moscow and Kiev on July 22 as a mediator. Turkey and the United Nations.

After more than 2 months of implementation, the agreement has helped ease economic pressures in Ukraine and food shortages in the world. “This is proof that Kiev and Moscow can still achieve practical cooperation in the midst of conflict,” Chausovsky said.

A key factor in this successful negotiation is Turkey, which has emerged as the most active and effective mediator between Russia and Ukraine since the conflict erupted.

As the only NATO member who does not support sanctions against Russia, as well as having constructive relations with both Moscow and Kiev, Ankara has enormous political leverage to assume the role of mediator for the conflict.

In addition, Turkey’s strategic location in the Black Sea and the Bosphorus gateway to the Mediterranean make Ankara logistically important. Any shipments that pass through the Black Sea must pass through Turkish-controlled straits in order to access global markets.

The role of the United Nations is also important because it brings multilateral legitimacy to the agreement, especially when the Russia-Ukraine conflict causes global food problems.

Since the Black Sea Grain Initiative was launched, nearly 200 grain ships have been exported, supplying more than 4 million tons of food to the world.

Such an agreement helps both Russia and Ukraine free up grain shipments, while not requiring the two sides to compromise on larger strategic interests.

The agreement also contributes to addressing Turkish and U.N. concerns about food shortages and inflation.

All parties have agreed to coordinate the implementation, allowing diplomacy to be conducted in earnest and the agreement to be implemented without political hurdles.

According to analysts, these are important factors to push Russia and Ukraine towards a larger diplomatic agreement, aimed at ending, or at least minimizing, the escalation of the conflict.

A recent survey conducted by the Washington-based Quincy Institute found that 57 percent of respondents support the U.S. pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Some 47 percent said they would only support continued U.S. military aid to Ukraine if Washington engaged in such a diplomatic effort.

  • Russia’s disadvantage with nuclear threat

Putin’s warning is vague enough to allow Russia to take other escalatory actions, including a general mobilization order, without necessarily resorting to nuclear weapons.

Valeriy Akimenko, an expert on Russian nuclear weapons at the Center for Conflict Studies, said that the decision to use nuclear weapons always comes with huge risks that any leader must carefully consider the problem of benefits and risks.

“Even if the order is issued, whether Russian military commanders will follow suit to activate the nuclear warhead will be a big question,” Akimenko said.

Putin and other senior officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons, but this scenario could do more damage to Russia than good.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said on September 27 that Russia has the right response with nuclear weapons if “the threat to Russia exceeds the defined limits of danger.”

He also mentioned the scenario of Moscow “being forced to use the most feared weapon against the Ukrainian authorities, which have taken large-scale aggressive actions that threaten the survival of the Russian state.” This is a term prescribed as one of the conditions of launching an attack in Russia’s nuclear doctrine.

President Vladimir Putin in his Sept. 21 speech also hinted at a nuclear attack, vowing to use “all available tools” to protect the nation’s territorial integrity. According to observers, warnings about the use of nuclear weapons always carry weight, and the Kremlin boss fully understands this.

Western countries have said they have not recently seen any signs that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons, but note that Putin’s warning should be taken seriously, as he is quite capable of doing this given the current predicament.

Keir Giles, head of the Britain-based Centre for Conflict Studies, said putin and medvedev’s aim in making statements about the nuclear weapons scenario was to deter Ukraine and the West.

“Such warnings could worry the West and reduce the momentum of support for Ukraine,” Giles said.

However, experts say it is unlikely that Russia will benefit from the use of nuclear weapons.

In most situations, Russia’s breaking with the taboo conventions on nuclear weapons that have been in place since World War II would put it in a worse situation, risking losing some of the friends who have been with them since the outbreak of the conflict with Ukraine.

According to Francois Heisbourg, a defense adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Studies, even the scenario of Russia using small tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield would create “major shocks but not too many military advantages.”

Ukraine does not concentrate many troops in one location, but disperses its forces on the front line stretching for hundreds of kilometers, so it is difficult for Russia to inflict large losses on enemy forces with a tactical nuclear attack.

Meanwhile, if Russia uses nuclear weapons, it will create clouds of radioactive fallout on the battlefield that its military must overcome if it wants to attack.

Heisbourg argued that this fact left Russia with only one option: to attack a major ukrainian population center.

However, Western military analysts also do not see any strategic benefit from this action. Meanwhile, it could expose Russia to strong Western countermeasures.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said Moscow will face a tough washington response if it uses nuclear weapons.

White House strategists say the tough response will not be a nuclear strike. Instead, the U.S. and its allies could destroy the military assets Russia is deploying in Ukraine.

Experts also say Putin’s threat of nuclear weapons is nothing new. In late February, shortly after launching the military operation in Ukraine, the Kremlin boss also demanded that the nuclear deterrent be put on high alert.

The order is disconcerting because Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are constantly on alert for combat readiness.

However, in early March, the US postponed an intercontinental ballistic missile test, apparently aimed at avoiding further escalation of tensions with Russia.

Western officials later said they had not detected any unusual nuclear activity that could cause concern in Russia. “I feel even less anxious now than I did in March,” Heisbourg said.

However, the fact that the warning was issued to coincide with the 4 regions of eastern and southern Ukraine’s referendum to annex Russia is raising concerns that if Kiev launches a counterattack on the newly annexed Territories of Moscow, Putin will accuse it of violating “Russia’s territorial integrity”.