While Putin has bluffed repeatedly with the use of nuclear weapons, and the white house did find it necessary to deter him just in case, I don’t share Jordan Peterson’s view that we need to be very worried.
Nuclear weapons were used twice when the USA still had a monopoly on its invention and never since. Other nations acquired them and mutual deterrence was an is a real thing.
We were worried, scared s**tless many times, that a nuclear war would finally break out (Cuban Missile Crisis, the 80’s generally etc.) but it never happened.
So far Putin has only threatened to use nuclear weapons on Ukraine and Medvedev suggested the West shouldn’t intervene, even if this turns out to not be a bluff. But he didn’t believe the West would intervene and cause nuclear escalation.
So far, neither the USA nor NATO has even sent ground troops to fight in Ukraine. There is no indication they’re likely to do so any time soon.
Furthermore, the main reasons for Putin to actually resort to nuclear weapons against the West is not a fight in Ukraine, but an infringement on Russia proper. No troops, planes or coup organizers will go into Russia. Nor will the US threaten to place missiles (let alone nukes) in the Baltic states or Finland. Finally, even during the height of the democracy protests in Belarus, there was no actual intervention in Russia’s neighbor.
In spite of violent protests, the regimes in Belarus and Kazakhstan have remained intact. In fact, Russia and its allies within the Collective Security Treaty Organization were able to answer the call to aid of Kazakhstan’s president without any Western interference. No color revolution has been successful since Ukraine in 2014, and Ukraine was always a complicated mess.
But will Putin use nukes specifically on Ukraine? Why order a partial mobilization if you’re just going to use nukes? Nuclear weapons as a last resort when your army has been beaten, would seem like a sign of weakness, to the populace of Russia and the world as a whole.
If Russia somehow proves to be this crazy, the West will likely not intervene and escalate. If world leaders have any sense, they will simply prepare to defend the rest of the world and ensure Russia cannot bully any other countries this way.
The threat of further nuclear attacks would likely lead to greater boundaries and distance between various power spheres. It would be a tense, Cold War 2.0 divided world, but probably no nuclear apocalypse. And that is if Russia actually were to use nukes on Ukraine, which is still doubtful.
We didn’t even get a nuclear war when all the Western countries were fighting Soviet and Chinese forces in Korea near the borders of both countries. We have had conflicts surrounding Ukraine for 8 years now. Before that Putin fought Georgia. Let’s all relax. Well no, let’s try to end insanity, support Taiwan and broker a reasonable peace in Ukraine. Let’s do that.