Putin and Nukes: How Real the Threat?
"It's not zero," says former senior CIA and DOE nuclear nonproliferation official. "He's desperate."
“I think the possibility that Putin could either become so desperate, or have in his calculations, to use tactical nuclear weapons, that threat is not zero,” Rolf Mowatt-Larssen tells SpyTalk podcast co-host Jeanne Meserve in this week’s episode.
“I don't see any moral calculus in Putin's decision-making that would preclude him from using nuclear weapons,” said Mowatt-Larssen, who served two tours in Moscow among his many senior roles in the spy agency. He also spent three years as the director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Putin “doesn't have this fear that the West has about these weapons representing something morally reprehensible in warfare,” he added, “and therefore would be willing to use them. It’s “the same reasons why the U.S. administration is worried that he might use chemical or biological weapons. He might certainly use tactical nuclear weapons if he felt they would somehow advantage him on the battlefield.”
Mowatt-Larssen also discussed the fraught state of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants as the battles rage in Ukraine.
Hear the whole conversation in this week’s edition of the SpyTalk podcast, which also includes my conversation with retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, about U.S. arms makers’ profit-making from the Ukraine war and Putin’s obsession with achieving Russian immortality. More about that anon.