Background Briefing: March 10, 2022
Is Putin’s Nuclear Alert a Bluff and Could He Cross the Nuclear Threshold by Firing a Tactical Nuke?
We begin with concerns expressed by the White House and the U.K. PM that Russia is preparing a false flag operation to use chemical weapons in Ukraine after making false charges echoed by Foreign Minister Lavrov that the U.S. has a secret chemical and bio-weapons factory in Ukraine. Joining us is Jeffrey Lewis, a professor of international studies at the Middlebury Institute who is the founder of ArmsControlWonk.com, the leading blog and podcast on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation and we discuss whether Putin’s nuclear alert is a bluff as Ukraine’s President Zelensky calls it and whether if the war drags on, the Russians might cross the nuclear threshold by firing a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon.
Will the $7 Billon in Arms For Ukraine the Congress Just Passed Hold Putin Off?
Then with today’s House passage of a $14 billion aid package for Ukraine expected to pass the Senate tonight, half of which ($7 billion) will go for arms, we examine what weapons could keep the Ukrainians in the fight long enough for Putin to decide to cut his losses and negotiate a peace instead of dictating a surrender. Joining us is James Goldgeier, Professor in the School of International Service at American University, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and a Visiting Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. He has held a number of public policy appointments, including Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council and is the Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. His books include America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy toward Russia after the Cold War, and Not Whether But When: The U.S. Decision to Enlarge NATO and we discuss how Putin is no so much afraid of NATO enlargement as he is of Ukraine joining the E.U.
The War in Ukraine as a Window Into Our Increasingly Endangered Planet
Then finally we look into how the current conflict in Ukraine is a window into our increasingly endangered planet threatened by nuclear weapons, cyberattacks, refugees, pandemics and a fast-warming planet and speak with Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, an international studies fellow at New America, and a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A noted expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, she is the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days and Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, and her latest book is Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy from the War on Terror to Donald Trump. We discuss her article at Tom Dispatch, “To Truly Understand Ukraine War, Look to Our Future—Not the Past.”