Latest news

ISW: Kremlin Ramps Up Nuclear Threats to Coerce West on Ukraine Support

The Kremlin has reignited a strategy of utilizing nuclear threats and diplomatic maneuvers to sway decision-making in the West, military analysts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) caution.

This approach, known as reflexive control, is identified as a central tool in Russia’s hybrid warfare arsenal. It operates by shaping perceptions and behaviors of adversaries through strategic rhetoric and information campaigns.

Notably, Russian officials have consistently linked nuclear readiness exercises and ambiguous threats of nuclear retaliation to crucial Western policy decisions regarding the war in Ukraine. The objective appears to be to pressure Western leaders into tempering their support for Ukraine.

The recent uptick in overt nuclear rhetoric coincides with the impending deployment of Western military hardware to Ukraine.

Experts believe that Russian authorities are employing a calculated information campaign centered around nuclear capabilities to dissuade Western nations from offering further military assistance to Ukraine. Additionally, they aim to deter Western policymakers from permitting Ukrainian forces to utilize provided weaponry against legitimate military targets within Russia.

While Russia is conducting planned nuclear drills, ISW continues to assess that the actual use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine remains highly unlikely. Nonetheless, such tactics have historically been leveraged by Russia to coerce Western powers into halting military support for Ukraine during previous escalations in the war.

See all