- The Russian military cannot operate on a nuclear battlefield in its current state, a think tank said.
- Tactical nuclear weapons would make areas impassable and prevent Russian advances, it said.
- The analysis comes amid escalating rhetoric about nuclear weapons from Russian officials.
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The Russian military in its current state cannot operate on a nuclear battlefield, despite escalating rhetoric about nuclear weapons, a think tank said.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, cited Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s recent comments that Russia should use low-yield nuclear weapons after losing the occupied town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine.
“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to and including the imposition of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also recently threatened to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and said he was not bluffing, although several experts said the threat is likely to remain minimal.
According to the ISW, the Russian military in its current state would probably not be able to operate on a nuclear battlefield, despite having the necessary equipment and historically trained units.
Its troops, currently a “chaotic conglomeration” of weary soldiers, hastily mobilized reservists and mercenaries, “could not function in a nuclear environment,” the think tank said.
The use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons would make areas impassable and thus prevent Russian advances, according to the think tank.
The think tank noted that discussions of Russia’s nuclear capabilities are common on Russian state television and among ultra-hawkish military bloggers, and that Kadyrov’s recent comments are consistent with this.
Other Putin allies, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have also repeated Russia’s nuclear threats.
Several experts and analysts have said Russia is unlikely to use nuclear weapons, with one expert recently telling Insider that the threats are likely aimed at creating confusion and uncertainty.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also criticized Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling” and said he currently sees nothing that indicates the use of nuclear weapons.