A Putin Nuclear Attack On Ukraine Would Be An Attack on NATO and Multiple Other Countries Across Europe, Asia, and the World, Given the Cross-Border Repercussions of a Nuclear Blast

Given the fact that any nuclear attack is likely to have obvious, foreseeable dangerous repercussions across multiple international borders, the international community needs to give that scenario careful thought, and provide careful warning about the legal, political and strategic frameworks surrounding the expanding, multinational threat and impact posed by any Russian nuclear attack.

Recall the far-reaching repercussions of the Chernobyl disaster, which was not even the deployment of a nuclear weapon, but a disaster that started out as as a localized problem at a civilian reactor, only to have its effects spread across Europe, as well as, to some degree, Asia, Africa and North America.

In other words, even if the Kremlin decided to have a supposedly localized deployment of even one nuclear device detonated at one spot inside Ukraine, that act would have to be considered a deliberate military action against much of the rest of Europe, given its obvious consequences. The life-endangering, harmful repercussions of the blast would carry across borders, in a way that would be so obvious and foreseeable as to render the attack to also be a deliberate attack on other parts of Europe.

That obvious foreseeability means that the Kremlin and its henchmen would have to be treated as having deliberately attacked multiple countries across Europe, including NATO countries, triggering NATO obligations of joint defense.

Recall that, by today's measures, some so-called tactical nuclear weapons are even more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin would be forcing the precise scenario he used as an excuse for his hysterical paranoia over Ukraine, namely whether Ukraine would be under the joint defense umbrella of NATO.

Putin's own intellectual and strategic incompetence, to carry out such a nuclear attack, would mean that, even with Ukraine not being a member of NATO, a nuclear attack by Putin on Ukraine would have to be treated as an attack on NATO, because the nature of the weapons prevent their effects from being localized.

In other words, the issue would not be whether NATO was willing to come to Ukraine's defense. The issue would be the NATO was forced to come to its own defense, because the unrestrained effects of a nuclear attack mean that a nuclear attack on one country would actually constitute an attack on a host of other countries nearby and further across the countinent.

Perhaps the targeting would be localized, and perhaps some core blast would be localized, yet the far-reaching effects would mean it was a continent-wide attack. If a little school girl two countries over got ill, or died, in connection with it, her illness and death would constitute an attack on her by Putin.

If NATO knew, for a fact, that a Russian plane or missile was delivering a nuclear warhead against Ukraine, and they also knew that it was going to cause harm spreading to NATO countries, they would be required to shoot it down, even if it was outside NATO airspace. Failure to do so would mean a failure to defend human lives inside their own territory.

Ironically, Putin tried to argue that he did not want Ukraine to be part of NATO, which would have had the effect of meaning that an attack on Ukraine was an attack on NATO.

Even now, if Putin attacks Ukraine with a nuclear weapon, he will have brought about his supposed greatest fear, because he also would be attacking NATO, given the unmistakable cross-border scope of the repercussions of a nuclear attack.

Individual Legal Culpability of Putin and Putin Henchmen

An interesting added point would to be to separate out any action against the Russian military from actions to arrest and try Putin or his henchmen for international crimes, such as the crime of aggression.

The point would not be whether NATO was willing to engage in military action to defend Ukraine, or whether NATO was going to engage in wholesale military conflict with the Russian military.

Instead the point would be the need to arrest Putin and relevant Putin henchmen, in their status as criminal individuals, such as the crime of aggression or nuclear terrorism. In fact,

Along those lines, there would be the question over whether Russia was willing to take military action against NATO just to protect one individual, set of individuals, from being arrested and held responsible for their individual wrongdoing.

Of course, some of these latter points already have come into play, given the illegality of the Russian war against war, violating both international law generally and the Budapest Agreement, in which Russia signed a binding international treaty agreeing to never invade Ukrainian territory or even threaten Ukraine, in exchange for, and as an inducement for, Ukraine voluntarily giving up one of the world's biggest nuclear arsenals.

Of course, concerns over the personal, individual legal culpability of Putin and his henchman would be even greater if he were to launch a nuclear attack foreseeably calculate to actually, through its cross-border repercussions, also be an attack on multiple additional European countries.

Also of interest would be the impact of those repercussions upon other forces and persons in the region, such as U.S. military vessels or troops in the region. Ironically, even with Ukraine not a member of NATO, a Putin nuclear attack upon Ukraine could manifest an attack on the United States, given the obvious environmental and human repercussions across the region.

It would not be the first time that Russia under Putin committed an act of war against the United States in recent years. On one occasion, some Russian ground forces in Syria large a wholesale battle against American forces. While played down by President Donal Trump and Putin, and covered only weakly in the news media, the result reportedly was an overwhelming rout of the Russian attackers.

Given that one purpose of law is to provide fair warning about consequences, and a stable framework for proceeding against threats and neutralizing dangers, the nature of Putin's criminal acts should be carefully spelled out, including the prospect of criminal culpability relating to any use of nuclear weapons under whatever circumstances seem to be at issue.

Indeed, even the threat, or hint of nuclear attack, such as to attempt to cow the West over sanctions, itself should be considered a form of terrorism, simply by making such a threat, even before an actual attack.

Interestingly enough, the issue of threats as unlawful already are pertinent to the legal treatment of Putin's posture on Ukraine. Under the Budapest Agreement, as a legally binding treaty, Russia promised to not even threaten Ukraine, let alone invade.

Instead, Putin has been both threatening and invading, to different degrees, for more than seven years.

Nuclear threats aggravate the situation, and go further in scope, since any nuclear threat against Ukraine is actually a threat against all of Europe

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Key Words: Russia, Ukraine, Nuclear, U.S. Military, NATO, Europe, Asia, Russo-Ukrainian War

Atomic Test file photo, adapted from LANL image featured at osti.gov