fischer197_SERGEI SUPINSKYAFP via Getty Images_russiaukrainewar Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

The Cold War Is Back

Now that Vladimir Putin has demolished the European peace framework and threatened nuclear war, Europeans will have to adapt by pursuing ever-closer integration as a political and defense bloc. Once again, freedom, democracy, and security on the continent cannot be taken for granted.

BERLIN – Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is an attempt to turn back the clock to a time when Russia was a superpower that dominated Eastern Europe. Yet in what amounts to an effort to change the outcome of the Cold War, Putin has badly overestimated his capabilities. Realities on the ground in Ukraine have revealed that a war motivated by starry-eyed nostalgia for czarist rule was a grotesque miscalculation.

While we don’t yet know how the war will end or how many victims it will claim (on both sides), it is already clear that Putin can no longer win – not on the battlefield, and especially not on the world stage. Between his latest threats to use nuclear weapons and his mobilization of some 300,000 reservists, he has unwittingly exposed his own weakness and the dire predicament that Ukrainian battlefield advances have put him in. With his so-called “special military operation” having failed spectacularly, he now seems to have little choice but to turn the battle into a full-blown “war,” availing himself of all of Russia’s strategic resources, including its nuclear arsenal.

If Putin should indeed violate the nuclear taboo, which has been in place since 1945, he will turn Russia into a pariah, bringing about its near-complete international isolation. India and China will not follow Putin down that road, and nor will the United States and NATO tolerate such a dangerous form of escalation. As they have already signaled, they would respond militarily in a well-calculated but non-nuclear manner to ensure that Russia faces “catastrophic consequences.” For Putin, a nuclear strike would be another step toward defeat.