Saturday, September 24, 2022

As 1991 Demonstrated, A Nuclear Power Can Lose and Fall Apart, Shtepa Reminds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 23 – In 1991, many of the most thoughtful specialists on the Soviet Union and international relations failed to see the approaching end of the USSR because they were blinded by the widely shared belief that a nuclear power cannot possibly lose and then disintegrate, Vadim Shtepa says.

            But despite that conviction, the USSR did lose the Cold War and did fall apart, the editor of the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal says; and that history is important to remember not because the Russian Federation is going to lose and fall apart in the same way but because those possibilities are despite nukes entirely real (

            The Russian Federation despite its nuclear arsenal is on its way to losing its war of aggression in Ukraine not only because it faces a better armed, better led and more motivated opponent but also because it is constrained from using its nuclear weapons however much it threatens to do so.

            And at the same time, the Russian Federation is riven by the kind of internal divisions both ethnic and regional that nuclear weapons can do little to address. Using such weapons within the current borders of that country or even in its neighbors would destroy as many Russians as anyone else and lead to an unravelling of the country.

            All that must be kept in mind, he argues, because “Russia’s defeat in its war in Ukraine certainly will give rise to a geopolitical revolution of the same size which at one time the fall of the Berlin Wall did. Only this time, this event will be ‘the fall of the Kremlin wall,’ the historical liquidation of the Muscovite empire and a voluntary treaty of the post-Russian countries.”

            But because many have forgotten 1991 and still believe that a nuclear power can’t lose and can’t fall apart, what appears to be ahead will be “a great surprise,” just as the loss and coming apart of the USSR was three decades ago. 


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