Will Putin go nuclear? An updated timeline of expert comments

Posted: 20th June 2022

An artists rendition of Russian President Vladimir Putins nuclear posture Photo credit kremlinru changes made CC BY 30

An artist’s rendition of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear posture. Photo credit: kremlin.ru, changes made, CC BY 3.0.

“The risk of global nuclear war has practically disappeared,” Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, said in his 1991 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, even though Russia and the United States retained their massive nuclear arsenals.

Three decades later, nine countries are members of the nuclear club. Even so, many were reassured last summer when Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden during a Geneva summit reiterated the Gorbachev-Regan statement that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

But ever since Russia’s late-February invasion of Ukraine, political leaders, nuclear arms control experts, and world citizens have tried to answer some version of the question: Will Putin use nuclear weapons in his war in Ukraine?

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