An alarmist new report from Financial Times cites US intelligence officials who say that Russia will use upcoming nuclear exercises in order to 'scare' and warn NATO against reacting militarily to any Russian incursion into Ukraine. "US military and intelligence officials believe Russia is planning a major nuclear weapons exercise this month as a warning to Nato not to intervene if President Vladimir Putin decides to invade," the new FT article begins.
"Russia generally holds its annual nuclear exercises — which involve testing intercontinental ballistic missiles from land, sea and air — in the fall. But the US believes Putin has decided to hold them earlier this year as a show of strength."
According to Thursday Congressional testimony cited in the report by Joint Chiefs chairman General Mark Milley and director of national intelligence Avril Haines, the Pentagon believes the exercises will likely be moved up to as early as mid-February. The drill will be a "show of force" aimed at both Ukraine and its Western backers in NATO.
Analyst Rebeccah Heinrichs with the hawkish D.C. think tank Hudson Institute described that given Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, "It would be an extremely provocative and harbinger of messages if they did it concurrently with an invasion."
For the past few weeks as Russia-Ukraine-NATO tensions ratcheted up dramatically, and now with the White House unusually talking about 'Russia false flag' scenarios, tensions have been on a knife edge. At the same time, Western media has been filled with shrill headlines warning of a WWIII coming due to "Russian aggression". This despite Ukraine's leaders themselves attempting to calm the rhetoric, stating their belief that the Russian side has yet to reach necessary troop level capability for a real large-scale invasion.
As an example, a weekend piece in Daily Mail proclaims, "Ukraine holds military exercises in CHERNOBYL in preparation for potential Russian invasion" - while underscoring the nuclear undertones to the tensions...
The bullets were real. But this was an exercise – a show of strength by Ukrainian forces designed to send a clear message to the Kremlin that they were ready to resist the Russian military forces building over the border just six miles away.
And the location could not have been more symbolic – for we were in the shattered urban landscape of Chernobyl, devastated by a nuclear accident in April 1986 that was covered up with terrible consequences by an appalling Russian regime.
And then there are these concerns...
A Ukraine Invasion Could Go Nuclear: 15 Reactors Would Be In War Zone https://t.co/kRwAGEbeCO— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) December 28, 2021
But after rising threats and counter-threats which have been near constant for much of the last two months, since the West began accusing Russia of a troop build-up of 100,000 threatening Ukraine, such sensational headlines are becoming almost commonplace.
Russia has been persistent in insisting it has no plans to invade Ukraine or "occupy" Kiev - as some US officials have alleged; however, with each passing day and week the standoff goes unresolved, the danger of a real shooting war based on the potential for unpredictable provocations certainly increases.