Ukraine: the Russian atomic attack, the Lend-Lease Act and the total war

(To Emilio Tirone)

If the evolution of the fighting in Ukraine were to continue turning, as the Americans wish, into a total collapse of the Russian forces,i such as to totally inhibit their ability to achieve the set objectives, compromising the positions already reached and even allowing the humiliation of possible enemy offensive attacks that violate their own national territory, the probability of recourse to a tactical use of the nuclear weapon would become almost a certainty. The question, at that point, it would no longer be if the Russians could use the atomic bomb but when.

In many quarters the possibility of such a scenario is minimized:

"I think that probably the Russians will continue to issue threats and warnings about the use of nuclear weapons, but I do not think so who will use them because they won't give them any advantage on the battlefield. " (Lieutenant General Ben Hodges).ii But this reassurance, already worrying in itself due to the double use of "probably" and "I think", under both doctrinal and serious military analysis, is reductive if not illusory.

The minimizing speeches of numerous experts and "analysts"iii they can serve to reassure public opinion but they cannot erase the reality of the effectiveness of the atomic offense.

The tactical nuclear use, in the form of sudden and timely attack, was doctrinally conceived precisely because its destructive power, against tactically profitable objectives, offers the possibility of reducing, locally and effectively, the enemy war potential, thus favorably determining the balance of forces between attack and defense.

Such use is undoubtedly, in the immediate at least, highly paying, especially in the face of the opponent's inability to fight back with similar measures. Whether such weapons are used according to defensive or offensive criteria of use, or, in a profitable way, consecutively in both ways, against fixed and / or mobile targets.

Not forgetting the Soviet experience in the NBC field, both material and doctrinal,iv the only alternative step on the Russian side, before tactical nuclear use, could be that of chemical weapons, to be used locally and massively. But this provision would certainly be tactically less decisive in the face of unanimous international condemnation and possible adversary retaliation. Even more unlikely thebiological offense, which would make nonsense the accusations made to date against the United States of having conducted secret experiments on Ukrainian soil.

The type of operations conducted so far by the Russians has excluded the tactical atomic use in support of the offensive maneuver, where it would have found, and still would find, valid use against the opponent's static resistance, quickly sweeping away the obstacles and the forces that carry out actions of containment, delay and wear, in order to establish conditions of superiority, albeit local and temporary, necessary to be able to give the sought-after, and never achieved, acceleration to one's own pace of action and bring it to a decisive term. The difficulties encountered by the Russians, on the other hand, seem to have reached such a point that an ever greater initiative on the Ukrainian side is plausible.

The support of armaments provided by the United States and Western countries is starting to make its weight felt, while further and more conspicuous aid, in terms of quantity and quality, is about to arrive in the theater. The declared possibility of Ukrainian offensive actions, not only local but of wider scope, is beginning to appear, aimed not only at slowing down and arresting Russian forces but at disrupting and annihilating them. A situation that, militarily and politically, both internationally and internally, Russia cannot afford.

In reality, politically, Russia cannot even allow the possibility of undergoing the Ukrainian initiative by going on the defensive. If forced to this scenario, the use of tactical nuclear weapons to reverse the situation would present itself as a possible option, despite the serious risks that international repercussions present. At that point, in fact, coordinating any static defense, interposed to a general Ukrainian offensive, the use of atomic fire and the subsequent rapid use of mobile forces in counter-offensive, would be a valid and therefore tempting strategy for the Russians. Atomic fire, in fact, used against the concentrations of forces, especially armored ones, would prevent the adversary from achieving the necessary superiority to conduct maneuvered actions in space. On the contrary, the aim of overturning the conditions of difficulty would be achieved and the relationship of forces, between attack and defense, necessary to create the conditions for the success of the reaction and movement in depth along the lines created, having achieved immediate via of facilitation in the void created in the adversary device.

The scenario that is unfolding is worrying. The West's support for Ukraine, in putting Russia against the wall, without the possibility of mediation and instead focusing on military defeat, leaves Moscow with few options. More and more in the Western camp, or at least in its political leadership, the idea is gaining ground that the massive dispatch of quality armaments could be the solution to save Ukraine by defeating Russia. And the more massive this help, the quicker this solution will be.

"Ukraine can avoid a long war scenario if it has enough weapons and is supplied quickly" - word of Wesley Clark and Philip Breedlove, both American four-star generals and with a past as supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.v

A perspective, however, which superficially does not take into account the Russian will not to want to bend.

If the Americans strategically used two atomic bombs to hasten the conclusion of an already won war, unscrupulously hitting the defenseless civilian population, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, why should we expect the Russians not to use tactical nuclear weapons on targets? limited military to win a war they might lose?

The air you breathe is increasingly that of the last world war.

THEUkraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of America, allows the sending of military aid, weapons and equipment, in an agile way, without red tape. A package of 20 billion dollars out of a total of 33 billion in general aid.

The measure has its precedent in Lend-Lease Act of 1941, better known as the "Rentals and Loans" law, which allowed decisive aid to the British Empire, the Soviet Union and other allied countries at war with Hitler's Germany, with a total contribution of 49 billion dollars, from 1941 to 1945vi (the economic comparison must take into account that one US dollar from 1940 is equivalent to about 20 today)vii. When it was approved at the time, the United States formally maintained its neutrality. But the enormous flow of aid that ensued, which determined the strength of the English resistance and favored the Soviet one, it determined two consequences as a corollary from the German side: first the declaration of war on the USA (which was followed by the Italian one) and then that of total war.

The first resolution seemed the only possible one to affect the flow of supplies from American ports across the Atlantic to Great Britain. The second in 1943,viii which provided for the complete mobilization of the nation for "total war", was the material reaction to the psychological pressure exerted by the military reverses on the eastern front and the consequent Soviet advance towards national borders, considered the bearer, through Bolshevism, of the destruction of civilization and German and European identity.

Not much differently is seen today by elite the advance of Western liberalism of Anglo-American derivation was Russian.

Germany in the last conflict, therefore, in a similar situation responded with the war against those who supplied their enemies and with "total war" in the face of the risk of defeat. Total war, yesterday as today, means the mobilization of every resource and use of every available means. But among all the means available to win today's battle there are also weapons of mass destruction, starting with the much feared tactical nuclear weapons.

Pragmatically and coldly Goebbels in his speech on total war emphasized that in the face of danger "The question is not whether the methods are good or bad, but whether they are successful". Today, in a dangerously increasingly similar situation, with similar psychological contexts, analytically it is legitimate to expect similar responses.

A careful reflection without prejudice, the Russian use of the atomic weapon and the land-lease act American in favor of Ukraine are closely related. This may seem like a strong and exaggerated statement but if, once again, one looks at the lesson of history, that correlation becomes evident.

Of course, the extreme use by the Russian side of one or more tactical nuclear devices or of the chemical offense does not automatically mean the beginning of a direct military confrontation with the West and the start of an apocalyptic. escalation nuclear. But the American will does not seem to leave any other margins: “The American response would not necessarily be nuclear and it would not be solely American: the answer would come from the entire Alliance. It could be a non-kinetic response, such as a devastating cyber attack, which would cause devastating damage to the economy and government of Russia. It could also be kinetic, like the destruction of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea or the Russian forces on Ukrainian territory ". (ten. gen. B. Hodges)ix These words, neglecting to comment on the questionable claim that NATO can intervene directly in the conflict as if Ukraine were a member under attack and that member countries of the Alliance, such as Italy, can automatically enter the war in spite of their own. legal systems, in reality do not show a solution but only the determination to want to widen the conflict without averting the atomic danger. Indeed, in the event of even a conventional reaction from the Western part, however, the risk of an atomic conflict would not be removed since the Russians, even more at a disadvantage, to avoid immediate defeat, would have no other alternative than the nuclear tactical use against the forces of the Alliance. But this answer would open anescalation unstoppable. Since, since always, doctrinally, the atomic offense must in principle be addressed with precedence and prevalence against the sources of the analogous offense against theescalation it would be inevitable, rapidly passing from the tactical to the strategic field.

The United States of America and China continue to avoid confrontation, including political confrontation, in a mutual climate of anticipation of the evolution of events and of the geostrategic repositioning that will derive from the end of this crisis, a prelude to what we have defined in another intervention as the future. Sino-American "cold peace".x But while Finland and Sweden have been placed under the British atomic umbrella awaiting their entry into NATOxi and Russia threatens possible atomic retaliation, the scenario of a nuclear apocalypse becomes more and more realistic. But even if this were only a remote hypothesis, it would still be necessary to seek a peaceful solution. In fact, removing this possibility would be the pre-eminent national interest over all and therefore the primary duty of political leaders.

Faced, however, with the will to take the risk of a collision that could lead to an atomic drift, other worrying questions remain: what realistic countermeasures do Europe and, in our case, Italy intend to take? Do national civil defense plans for the protection of the population in the event of an atomic attack offer realistic guarantees?

The answers may be more disturbing than the questions.

iSee. D. Rossi's interview with Lieutenant General B. Hodges, former commander of the US armed forces in Europe, Online Defense (16/05/22),

iiSee Idem

iii E. Tirone, Russia-Ukraine and DIY analysts, Online Defense (22/03/2022),

iv DC Isby, Weapons and tattics of the soviet army, Jane's Publishing Company, London 1988.

vSee. D. Rossi, Unexpected effects of the first American arms supplies to the Ukrainians, Online Defense (15/05/22),

viCf.. AA.VV., Infographic of the Second World War, L'Ippocampo, Milan 2019, pp. 36-37.

viii JP Goebbels, Total war speech, Berlin, February 18, 1943,

ix Cit. interview by D. Rossi at ten. gen. B. Hodges,

x E. Tirone, the Sino-American "cold peace" and the risk of a European "hot war", Online Defense (06/05/2022)