I am in no position to evaluate whether this is a correct analysis. I am just putting this out there as a grim possibility. A Hard Look at the Risk of a Putin-Ordered Tactical Nuke. Short version: still unlikely, but no longer impossible.
As hyperbolic as that claim may seem, the circumstances that would spur the Russians to use a tactical nuclear weapon are starting to fall into place. As laid out yesterday, the war is going badly for the Russians. Advances are moving slowly, when they’re moving at all, and casualties are mounting. The Russian economy is collapsing. Something’s going to break; it’s just a question of what breaks first.
This newsletter has repeatedly discussed the official Russian military doctrine, “escalate to deescalate” — that is, “If Russia were subjected to a major non-nuclear assault that exceeded its capacity for conventional defense, it would ‘de-escalate’ the conflict by launching a limited — or tactical — nuclear strike.” In other words, Russia’s official strategy when losing a war is to escalate it by using tactical battlefield nukes in order to “deescalate” it on favorable terms.