Europe

Jan Coffron: Russia’s Nuclear Weapons ‘The Only Surviving Card’

“If they had decided to do some partial or semi-mobilization by mid-March, they could have gotten something important out of it and won the conflict. We are just fighting hard to keep what we have, we can’t beat Ukraine, that’s my guess.”

Does that mean they’ve already missed an opportunity?

“If they had decided to do some partial or semi-mobilization by mid-March, they could have taken something significant out of it and won the conflict.”

“Mostly. Their bet in recent months or weeks has basically been to try to stabilize the front until late autumn and then enter into negotiations with the Europeans. Europeans may have hoped to play the energy card so hard that they finally decide they don’t want to support Ukraine. can take back land, it is much easier to sell that they should support Ukraine. It’s easy.”

At least when looking at the regions Russia claims to be within its sphere of influence, namely the Caucasus and Central Asia, President Vladimir Putin is probably not so respected by the leaders of several republics in those regions. understood. like in the past. How much influence do you think Russia has lost over these partners, and how much of a potential threat do you think this poses to the stability of these regions?

Jan Coffron | Photo: Kateřina Cibulka, Czech Radio

“The Ukraine war was a big blow for Russia, no doubt.

“Basically, the only surviving card Russia has now is nuclear weapons, because most of Russia’s current military strength is concentrated in Ukraine. You may feel like you can do what you want now, as long as you have at least some control over the situation.

Basically because the only surviving card Russia has now is nuclear weapons and the majority of the current Russian military is concentrated in Ukraine. ”

“It’s easy to see that Azerbaijan is attacking Armenia in this sense. There is conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. That’s basically what you said – the situation there is destabilizing. Whatever we think of Russia in the European context, Russia has also been at least to some extent or a stabilizing factor in the Caucasus region, Central Asia, etc. I would say that they are perfectly stable It wasn’t, but it was at least somewhat stable.

“Now that this situation has completely changed, I can imagine that the local elite may decide it’s time to get rid of their local enemies.”

How concerned are the potential destabilizations in these regions for you as an international relations scholar and for your community professional? Seemingly in favor, many want Russia to lose, but what wider risks does a true defeat of Russia pose?

“This is a wild guess, but I don’t think the problems in Central Asia in particular are that important for Europe. For states near certain hotspots, the consequences can be relatively tragic for locals.” I have.

Photo: Martin Dorazín, Czech Radio

“I can still imagine that it will have a huge impact on the Caucasus region. No. And this is even more true when it comes to the United States. For example, the two-year war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. How important was it to us?

“So there could be destabilization in these areas, but I don’t think it will affect us seriously.”

What do you think China’s position is in all of this? It appears to have withdrawn some of its initial support for Russia since February and March’s failures. Do you think China is looking to expand its influence in Kazakhstan and Central Asia in general? Does Russia face the threat of becoming a Chinese client state, as we sometimes hear?

“My guess is that Russia’s dependence on China will actually grow over time, and there is little we can do about it. Therefore, we are logically against Russia, which means that the Kremlin will have to look elsewhere for economic or political allies. or China.

“Obviously, China is not stupid enough to openly support Russia. Why should they do that?

“Obviously, China is not stupid enough to openly support Russia. After all, for the last 10 or 15 years, the US has pivoted to Asia. To some extent, the United States must rethink Europe.

“It simply makes sense that China would be reluctant to change the situation much. They say that in the long run, Russia will need to rely more on Chinese business and military support.”

How concerned should we be about China’s possible growing influence over Russia? Will it be a changer or something like that?

Photo: ČTK/AP/uncredited

“I don’t think so. This clearly means that Russia cannot be used as a potential ally against China. I don’t think this will be a very strong advantage for China just because they are behind.

“Yes, they have a lot of resources. But I think it’s for the best.What Russia can give China economically is that China is still a relatively large market.”

Given these realities, should Europe continue to focus on helping Ukraine, or should it strive to reach some common ground between Russia and Ukraine?

“First of all, I think it is necessary to state clearly that there is no one in Europe. I’m not saying it’s the opposite, but there are certainly some differences.

“If we can get rid of the mighty Russia, that’s a big bonus for us.”

“For the Eastern European EU member states, it clearly makes sense to push for Ukraine’s victory, at least a defensive one, as much as possible. If we can eliminate a powerful Russia, that would be a huge bonus for us. , this is not an immediate problem for Germany or France.

“If I were a German or French politician, I would logically not be threatened by Russia. So, from this point of view, I would say that there are two regions in Europe that are, at least to some extent, slightly different, so I don’t think you can find one location.

Vladimir Putin | Photo: ČTK/AP/uncredited

“Ultimately, I think the European position will be some kind of compromise between these two positions. It clearly makes sense to support Ukraine in large part. Is it willing to increase? Because if this war is not over in the next few months, we need to ensure that Ukraine has enough ammunition and heavy equipment for the next few months.”

Europe may ultimately be faced with difficult decisions. Of course, Ukraine wants to join the EU and has received candidate status. And, of course, there is Georgia in the potentially destabilizing region. Are there certain red lines that you think Europe shouldn’t go to?

“Look, once you’ve beaten Russia outright, it makes sense to say to Ukraine or anyone else, ‘Join NATO or join the European Union.’ But if Russia can survive this campaign as a great power instead of a superpower, I think there will be no offers for Ukraine to join NATO in the near future.

Photo: Martina Schneibergova, Radio Prague International

“I am also relatively hesitant about the prospect of joining the EU, not because of Russia but because of economic disparity. Something of a special partnership. However, given the country’s economic situation, I think membership in the EU is highly unlikely.

Looking at this conflict in general, is there something you’ve noticed that isn’t mentioned much by experts and the media?

“There are a lot of impressive issues. For example, you said that Russian players performed below average compared to what you originally expected. Ukraine, on the other hand, performed much better.

“But the general lesson I have seen from this conflict is that war is still possible and requires huge stockpiles – personnel and equipment stockpiles. And without reserves, you cannot survive.”

https://english.radio.cz/jan-kofron-russias-nuclear-weapons-are-its-only-surviving-card-8762292 Jan Coffron: Russia’s Nuclear Weapons ‘The Only Surviving Card’

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