Victor Davis Hanson writes:
In summer 2022, Putin repeatedly suggested that Russia reserved the right to use nuclear weapons if threatened with destruction. A few prominent Russians openly envisioned thermonuclear war. Alexei Zhuravlev, a member of the Russian parliament, boasted on Russian state television, “I will tell you absolutely competently that to destroy the entire East Coast of the United States, two Sarmat missiles are needed. And the same goes for the West Coast. Four missiles, and there will be nothing left.”
Is it all just saber rattling, buffoonery, the last braggadocious mutterings of a failed regime? Cheap efforts to obtain deterrence that Russian arms have lost? Perhaps. And then again, perhaps not.
The key to remember, however, is that there must be a near certainty that nuclear trash-talking is all cheap rhetoric, since the slight chance that it forewarns something deadly serious is . . . quite deadly, indeed.