Expert: The war could escalate when we give tanks – don’t know how Putin will react

Expert: The war could escalate when we give tanks – don’t know how Putin will react
Expert: The war could escalate when we give tanks – don’t know how Putin will react

Nupi researcher Julie Wilhelmsen says that we simply do not know how Russia will react, nor what is Putin’s red line that must not be crossed. Moscow has reacted strongly to Western donations of tanks to Ukraine, escalating arms support.

– It is conceivable that Russia is bluffing when they now again say that Russia’s “fate” is threatened and refer to its nuclear weapons power, as Medvedev did this week. Earlier in this war, we have also seen that the Kremlin has avoided turning this into a war between Russia and NATOsays Wilhelmsen to NTB.

Here you can read everything about the war in Ukraine

– In addition, it can be shown that Russia has lost on the battlefield all the way through this war and that we even see tendencies to crack the orders in the Putin system at home. Faced with a strengthened Ukrainian defense, the Kremlin may choose to withdraw from Ukraine, says the Russia expert.

– More likely with escalation

But she says there is another option that is more likely.

– There is a more likely scenario, which is about the Kremlin choosing to escalate. Two factors are important here. Firstly, that the western countries have stopped urging Kyiv to take the word “negotiation” in their mouths, as they did last autumn, says Wilhelmsen.

– Secondly, that they are now less hesitant to support Ukraine in taking back the Ukrainian territories that Russia has directly or indirectly controlled since 2014, including Crimea. Russia defines a loss of Crimea as an existential threat, she says.

Norway is among the countries that are now providing Leopard tanks to Ukraine, while the United States is providing the heavyweight Abrams. There is a significant escalation of arms support.

If Putin responds to that by escalating the wars, it can take several forms, says the Nupi researcher.

– Can mobilize

Lieutenant-Colonel Palle Ydstebø, who is head of the land force section at the War College, says that it is possible that the tanks will lead to increased Russian mobilization.

– But I am not sure how big a political risk it is, given the reactions in Russia during the previous round. There is also great uncertainty related to whether Russia has available material to equip the soldiers and whether they have enough good officers to set up larger units, says Ydstebø to NTB.

– In any case, it will take months and perhaps closer to a year to reach such a good standard in these departments if they are to be used for anything other than cannon fodder, as we have seen in recent months, he says.

Ydstebø says that Russia will probably continue with terrorist bombings, but that it does nothing but strengthen the Ukrainian resistance and Western support.

– Historically, terrorist bombings (and other terror) have most often worked against their purpose, and the anger has been directed at the terrorists, he says.

– Threatened with nuclear weapons for a long time

Ydstebø says that Russian nuclear weapons are most effective when they are used to threaten.

– The reactions from Russia are always harsh. They have been threatening nuclear weapons since before the invasion, but they probably know that there is a red line in this war, and that is the use of nuclear weapons, he says.

He does not believe that Russia will attack targets in NATO countries linked to the arms donations to Ukraine.

– Russia can of course carry out sabotage or other covert actions against Western targets, but military attacks against Western targets are acts of war, and Russia hardly has the capacity to hold Ukraine, much less a war against NATO, says Ydstebø.

Terror bombing and the nuclear threat

– We may see continued or increasing “terror bombing” of the type we have all seen. Russia is arming itself, mobilizing more soldiers for the war and can reach even deeper into the military toolbox, says Wilhelmsen.

– They can potentially resort to tactical nuclear weapons, as has all been discussed earlier in this war. This type of escalation will turn this into a protracted war with huge Ukrainian losses, she says.

Wilhelmsen says it is important to remember that it is Russia – and Putin – who themselves define what is the red line for the Kremlin.

– Even if it is then Russia’s responsibility that they escalate, it is still Ukraine and possibly us who pay the price, says the Nupi researcher.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Expert war escalate give tanks dont Putin react

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