On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin shocked the world when he invaded Ukraine. While the situation remains very fluid, there are some important lessons to be learned from Putin’s actions – lessons that Western politicians and the mainstream media aren’t likely to share with you.
The most important lesson is that it’s never a good idea to play chicken with nuclear weapons. One of my earliest memories from childhood are of cowering under a desk in a classroom in what were then called “duck and cover” drills when air raid sirens rang in my hometown. The Kanawha Valley of West Virginia branded itself as the “chemical center of the world” and its dozens of petrochemical factories were reportedly a prime Soviet nuclear target.
I’ve never forgotten those days and have closely followed revelations that have recently emerged on how many close calls there were to mutually assured destruction during the Cold War years.
Indeed, one man – a Soviet naval officer – may have single-handedly prevented World War 3 from breaking out during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Vasili Arkhipov was one of three senior officers aboard a nuclear-armed submarine that US warships trapped near Cuba. The warships were dropping depth charges to force the submarine to surface. Two of the three officers voted to launch a nuclear torpedo the submarine had onboard, which would have allowed them to escape, but possibly launched World War 3. Only Arkhipov refused, potentially saving billions of people from a fiery death.
That wasn’t the only close call the United States and the Soviet Union had in their Cold War nuclear standoff. A lesser known one involved NATO war game preparations in 1983 that led the Soviets to believe the United States was ready to launch a first strike against it. Once again, it was a single officer – this one American – who may have saved the world from nuclear annihilation.
With this background in mind, when we learned that Russian President Putin had ordered his nuclear forces on high alert, it got our attention. Putin’s announcement came after the United States, Germany, and other countries imposed crippling sanctions on Russia and began sending additional weapons to help Ukraine battle Russia.
And while we don’t know if those actions alone would convince Putin to launch a nuclear war, the history of mutual miscalculations in scenarios involving nuclear weapons leads us to conclude that it could.
Thus, we’re troubled by pleas from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that NATO forces establish a no-fly zone over his country. The no-fly zone would be enforced by US and other NATO forces dispatched to Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s call for a no-fly zone has been echoed by politicians like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who has urged President Biden to dispatch US military forces to Ukraine for that purpose. That would place the two countries with the world’s largest nuclear weapons stockpiles in direct conflict. Having the United States risk global nuclear war over a country nearly 6,000 miles away that has historically been part of Russia is certifiably insane, but it’s a sign of how powerful war fever has become.
President Biden has sensibly declared that the United States has no plans to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. However, Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has given the green light to NATO countries if they choose to provide fighter jets to Ukraine. Putin has responded that this would be equivalent to a declaration of war. Biden has also authorized the deployment of US forces to countries on Russia’s borders that were themselves once part of Russia – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The number of troops is relatively small – only around 800 – but the consequences of playing chicken with nukes could be catastrophic.
Unlike some Putin apologists, we’re not defending his brutal invasion of Ukraine, although given Russian history and geography, we believe we understand some of his motivations. But given our own history, we can only hope that a future miscalculation or misunderstanding won’t spark World War 3.
The significance of Russia’s war with Ukraine can’t be overstated. It represents the most profound shift in geopolitical reality in nearly 80 years. We’ll be featuring a more comprehensive discussion, including the war’s implications for the economy, global trade, and investment in upcoming publications distributed to members of our Nestmann Inner Circle Gold. As well, we’ll include a checklist of preparations you and those you care about should consider to survive a possible nuclear conflict. You can sign up for a risk-free trial subscription at this link.