Speed News Portal


Mr. Putin: Operative In The Kremlin, by Fiona Hill, a renowned Russia expert, and author, has made some bold claims about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions regarding the invasion of Ukraine.

Fiona Hill, the author of one of the most widely discussed Putin biographies, claims that we are already in the midst of a “third world war,” according to Politico.


Fiona Hill is a presidential advisor who previously worked as a Russian and European affairs specialist at the US National Security Council. She also witnessed Donald Trump’s first impeachment in November 2019.

Hill holds a doctorate in history from Harvard University and has written four books, including Energy Empire: Oil, Gas, and Russia’s Revival.

Hill testified before the Commission On Security And Cooperation In Europe on Capitol Hill on February 2nd, 2022, on the topic of Russia’s Assault On Ukraine And The International Order: Assessing And Strengthening The Western Response.



As the situation between Russia and Ukraine has developed into a war, several newspapers have asked Fiona Hill for her assessment on how far Putin might go in terms of responding to perceived outside threats.

Hill told Politico Putin might go as far as utilizing all the weapons he has at his disposal, including nuclear ones. Hill said:

Speaking on the relevance of the situation in Ukraine, Hill said: “Ukraine has become the front line in a struggle, not only between democracies and autocracies, but in a struggle for sustaining a rules-based system in which the things countries seek are not seized by force. Every government in the world should be paying close attention to this.”

Talking about Putin’s aims, Hill added: “It’s re-establishing Russian rule of what Russia perceives as the Russian ‘Imperium’. I’m saying this very clearly because the lands of the Soviet Union didn’t cover all of the regions that were originally part of the Russian Empire. So that should give us pause.”

Fiona Hill is convinced Putin can go “all the way” in his invasion of Ukraine.

She said: “Now, if he can, he is going to take the whole country. We have to face up to this fact. Although we haven’t seen the complete Russian invasion force deployed yet, he’s clearly got the troops to move into the whole country.”

How to think about the risk of nuclear war, according to experts

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, he also made a more nebulous threat: “No matter who tries to stand in our way or … create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

Another aspect of his remarks seemed to make his intention obvious. “Today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,” Putin added. As justification for the invasion, Putin also presented unsubstantiated assertions that Ukraine was on a road to creating its own nuclear arsenal. “There’s no proof of it at all,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

On February 27, Putin went a step further, sending his country’s nuclear forces to a “special regime of combat duty” and blaming “illegal sanctions” and “aggressive statements” from countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Jen Psaki, press secretary for the Biden White House, soon responded. “At no point has Russia been under threat from NATO,” she stated on ABC’s This Week. “We have the power to defend ourselves.”

The Russian invasion has relied largely on conventional weapons — tanks rattling along highways, bombers flying overhead, ships landing in the port city of Odesa — and analysts told Vox that in the absence of a shocking escalation, that isn’t expected to change.

Still, Putin’s statements were a striking reminder that nuclear weapons aren’t merely the boogeymen of a bygone age, but remain an essential part of the security order that formed following the end of World War II. By Kristensen’s estimation, Russia has roughly 6,000 nuclear weapons while the United States has about 5,500. Either nuclear arsenal is large enough to kill billions of people — but also to serve as a deterrent against attack.

In recent decades, the so-called nuclear order has been pretty steady. The seven other countries known to have nuclear weapons have significantly smaller arsenals. Most countries in the world have signed onto the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which bans the development of nuclear weapons. We questioned three researchers of nuclear weapons control about the hazards the world confronts now and what we might be able to do about them.

How scared should we be about the prospect of nuclear weapons right now?
When Russia first invaded Ukraine, the scholars who talked to Vox said a nuclear strike is unlikely but still a cause for concern, considering that the invasion launched the greatest military operation in Europe since the Second World War.

“I’m more scared than I was a week ago,” Kristensen added. He pointed out that NATO upped its readiness levels for “all contingencies” in reaction to Putin’s statement, and with increased military buildup comes increased uncertainty. “That’s the fog of war, so to speak,” Kristensen remarked. “Out of that can come twists and turns that take you down a path that you couldn’t predict a week ago.”

When asked about Putin’s decision to place his nuclear troops on greater alert, Kristensen responded, “There is nothing in Russia’s proclaimed public nuclear doctrine that supports this.” He continued, “Putin has now taken yet another move that unnecessarily raises the situation to what appears to be a direct nuclear threat.”

Matthew Bunn, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former assistant to President Bill Clinton’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, first told Vox, “I think there is basically no chance nuclear weapons are going to be utilised in the Ukraine situation.” The fundamental reason, Bunn added, is that the United States and its NATO allies have made it clear that they would not send soldiers to Ukraine. Without the danger of military intervention, Putin has no motive to use his nuclear weapons, especially because Russia enjoys a massive numbers advantage over the Ukrainian military.

Bunn qualified his views after Putin’s aggressiveness. “No one outside of Putin’s inner circle understands for sure why Putin has taken this action,” he added in an email. “My guess — and it’s only mine — is that it is designed as more signalling to prevent anyone in the West from even thinking about engaging militarily to support Ukraine.”

Paul Hare, senior lecturer in global studies at Boston University, stated that Putin’s actual ambition is to “swallow Ukraine” and restore the ancient dominance of imperial Russia. “His purpose is not to bring the world to nuclear war,” Hare stated.

Hare interpreted Putin’s escalation as a reaction to a surge of international pressure and sanctions. “He feels that this is suggesting Russia is being pushed about by the heavy sanctions and unity of Europe,” Hare wrote in an email. “We do of course hope that Putin is still a rational actor,” he continued, by recalling that nuclear war will not suit his interests.

What does Russia’s nuclear arsenal look like? How does it compare to others in the world?

Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, with over 6,000 warheads. Russia had only 1,600 of those warheads ready for use when it invaded Ukraine on February 24th, according to Kristensen. These included missiles stored in silos and bombs dropped by planes. Ukrainian nuclear weapons were left behind when the USSR disintegrated after the Cold War, but they were returned to Russia by Ukraine.)

North Korea, Pakistan, Pakistani forces in India, and the United States are among the countries known to possess nuclear weapons, as are Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As a result, this covers every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and the three NATO nations that are now engaged in nuclear weapons modernization. From an estimated 70,300 in 1986 to 12,700 in early 2022, the overall number of weapons has decreased by nearly 80% since the conclusion of the Cold War.

Still, that’s a lot of nuclear weapons. According to Kristensen, “there has been significant discussion as to whether that means Russia has a type of trigger-happy nuclear posture. ” Trying to pin it down is a challenge. According to my estimation, if Russian officials were asked to sit down and completely assess how many tactical nuclear weapons were necessary, I believe that number would soon reduce too far less [than what it is today].”

Does Putin have a reason to consider using nuclear weapons?

Experts say Russia does not need to use nuclear weapons from a strategic standpoint. The greatest source of uncertainty, however, is said to be Putin. In particular, Hare noticed “the element of emotion and anger that has crept into Putin’s statements.” In our minds, the diplomatic style of Russia is usually described as laconic, almost sarcastic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s victory in Ukraine, Hare said, would be undermined by a nuclear war, which would likely alienate not only the West but also potential allies like China. In light of Putin’s increasingly hostile demeanor, China is likely to call on him to restore the world order of global trade and investment on which China’s prosperity depends, he said. “China’s worst nightmare is nuclear war.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin frequently references Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a show of strength, according to Kristenson. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, he said in a Russian state television documentary that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert.

Although Putin’s nuclear rhetoric may be more bark than bite, Kristensen isn’t ready to make that conclusion just yet. According to Kristensen, he’s “deeply paranoid” and “lives in a very small bubble”. “He’s willing to do things that aren’t necessarily logical at all.”

Is the fear of a nuclear war enough to stop countries from using nuclear weapons?

When you actually see how destructive nuclear weapons can be, you start to get scared. The principle of nuclear deterrence was the cornerstone of Cold War security and, according to experts, it is as relevant today as it was during the Cold War. According to my colleague Zack Beauchamp, the US will not send troops to Ukraine because of the threat of nuclear weapons.

It is clear that nuclear deterrence did not bring an end to all wars. A nuclear arsenal, according to Bunn, “did not help us in Vietnam, did not help us in Iraq, and did not help us in Afghanistan”. For the vast majority of US security and well-being challenges, nuclear weapons are ineffective.”

YouTube video

Since the Cold War, nuclear deterrence has been widely accepted as a means of ensuring that Europe’s borders would not be challenged. According to Hare, the Ukraine crisis is putting some doubt on that theory. It has been decades since deterrence’s credibility was put to the test, according to Hare. “It’s as if the entire international order has been upended. “Is the Ukraine attack going to be a prelude to an attack on, say the Baltic states, which are even more vulnerable?”

To that question, Hare said, the United States and its NATO allies will apply their conventional and nuclear forces around the world, depending on the answer. Speaking at a conference, Kristensen said, “We’re seeing large powers begin to sort of entertain the thought of limited tactical nuclear weapons use scenarios in a way that they didn’t spend very much time thinking about 10 years ago.” It’s been a long time since we’ve seen these kinds of scenarios in war games, but they’ve been used as contingencies since the Cold War.

According to Kristensen, “the theory is very much like it was during the Cold War. Forcing an adversary to take an exit ramp during a conflict is as simple as having a few smaller nukes that you can pop off here and there.

Is the world doing a good job keeping nuclear weapons under control?

The Non-Proliferation Treaty and other worldwide efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists have been remarkably successful. Constant care and maintenance are required to keep these efforts going. Bunn added, “The global nuclear order is in a state of crisis.” It appears that India and Pakistan are engaged in an arms race to build up short-range tactical nuclear weapons, while enmity between the United States and Russia is increasing.

“People should be paying attention,” Kristensen remarked. For this reason, citizens must be on the lookout for ways to hold their governments accountable while also ensuring that policies in place and how they’re put into practice are beneficial and do not worsen the situation. Efforts to renew the New START Treaty, a crucial agreement between the United States and Russia to limit nuclear-armed missiles, will be considerably more difficult because of the deteriorated relations between the two countries.

According to Bunn, “the enormous surge in US-Russian enmity will lead to increased risks of confrontation and make it more difficult to deal with Russia.” If the United States and Russia work together to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other nations or improve the security of nuclear weapons and materials and installations, all of that goes well. It’s unlikely they’ll be doing that anytime soon.

Bunn broke the good news to the group. There are encouraging signals that the nuclear agreement with Iran may be reinstated, reinforcing the NPT’s principles. There are only 5% of countries in the world with nuclear weapons, according to Bunn. “Every other state has committed to never developing nuclear weapons,” says the author.

Decommissioned Russian warheads were used to fuel American nuclear power plants for decades, according to Bunn. This serves as a poignant reminder of how the international community came together to transform an instrument of destruction into a force for good. ‘Wow,’ Bunn exclaimed. This has never happened before in human history: “The most potent weapon accessible to our race was widely disregarded.”

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET on February 27: Following Vladimir Putin’s decision to raise the readiness level of Russia’s nuclear weapons, we’ve added further expert comments to this story.

Comments are closed.