On Wednesday, the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE) published a Transfer They describe what they see as red lines for Russia to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. In addition, they consider it likely that Russia will threaten to point its nuclear weapons at Sweden and Finland as a result of their attempts to join NATO.
“Russia is likely to increase its threatening rhetoric, including threatening to direct nuclear weapons at targets in Sweden and Finland.”
– Quite possible
Tom Roseth, Head of Intelligence at the Norwegian Armed Forces College, has great faith in FE and its assessments, just as he believes in the Norwegian Intelligence Service and their Focus report. This is because FE uses a comprehensive methodology and has a large source of resources.
– It is quite possible that Russia will be able to threaten this at the stage when Sweden and Finland apply for membership in NATO. It may be in Russia’s interest to intimidate the populations of Finland and Sweden in order to make them unsure of the option to join NATO membership, Roseth tells Dagbladet and continues:
– Russia will also create fears of trying to weaken the unity between Western countries and NATO countries. This would likely have the opposite effect and explain why it is appropriate for Finland and Sweden to become NATO members.
US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) Considering that the Kremlin has already stepped up accusations that NATO expansion poses a threat to them. Among other things, it is indicated that Defense Minister Sergei Sjogo believes that the membership applications of Sweden and Finland make it necessary for Russia to strengthen defense in the northwest of the country.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons. Most recently, in September, Putin stated that he is ready to use all available means to defend the Russian lands.
The use of nuclear weapons usually causes massive destruction, but the range depends on the weapon. The US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed between 100,000 and 250,000 people.
Putin’s red lines
Moreover, FE considers it likely that the war in Ukraine will continue. To date, Russia has annexed Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. FE is of the opinion that if Ukraine regains significant portions of these areas, Russia will likely be able to view them as a threat to its core strategic interests – in the extreme consequence of the country’s existence.
“If this happens, there will be a risk that Russia will conclude that only the use of nuclear weapons can avoid an unacceptable Russian defeat. It is possible that Russia will have a similar threat perception if NATO countries directly participate in hostilities against Russia on Ukrainian soil,” he added.
Moreover, FE considers that decision-making processes in Russia carry risks of incorrect assessments and incorrect decisions.
“In decision-making processes at the highest level in Russia, it is only Putin who decides when Russia’s core strategic interests, and ultimately its very existence, are threatened. He generally increases the risk that Russia’s reaction in the face of the West will be more severe than expected.” Perhaps with more military escalation.”
“There is also a risk that lower levels in the Russian decision-making hierarchy could misunderstand and overreact the military activities of NATO countries, and in this way inadvertently lead to an escalating crisis.”
The expert reacts
Roth reacts to FE’s assessments about the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
– I find the FE’s assessments of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine very strong. It will be interesting to see if this is likely in the same way in the Fokus report due in February, says Røseth and continues:
– Personally, I consider that Russia has a somewhat higher threshold for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine than in FE. Among other things, I consider Crimea to be of special importance for Russia, rather than equate to the annexed regions of Ukraine.
– Do you think that the electronic service can perform assessments other than FE?
In any case, I am eager to see if the Norwegian Intelligence Service assesses the risks of using tactical nuclear weapons in the same way as the Danish Defense Intelligence Service.
However, Rosth finds it uncontroversial that Vince believes that “Russia would be willing to escalate the conflict with the West below the threshold of direct military conflict.”
– As long as Russia uses hybrid means, along with digital sabotage and other activities that are difficult to prove who is behind it, it will be difficult to trigger Article 5. This applies to cyberattacks, intelligence activity, and possibly military threats in neighboring regions. Russia is expected to increase such activity in the future, says Rosth.
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