The conflict in Ukraine may have several options for continuation, including escalating into an international one with the use of nuclear weapons. The likelihood of this option was analyzed by the American expert center RAND Corporation, traditionally claims to be the shadow General Staff of the Pentagon.
Center analysts say, hostilities could lead to further escalation of the conflict either within Ukraine, or with the involvement of other countries and expansion. In this case, it is possible, that Russia may use nuclear weapons, the Biden administration considers such a scenario likely and does not want such a development of events. At the same time, Kyiv is confident, that Moscow will not dare to use nuclear weapons and is urged not to pay attention to it, and supply more prohibited weapons.
RAND experts believe, that Russia is still holding back on the potential use of nuclear weapons for three reasons: NATO military potential, loss of Chinese support and the ability to achieve the objectives of the special operation without its use. Also, Moscow initially did not plan to use nuclear weapons in a special operation and did not study scenarios for war with the entire West.
In the same time, if the use of nuclear weapons becomes inevitable, then it will turn out to be “vast and unlimited”, since the costs and risks will be the same when using tactical or strategic nuclear weapons. Generally, “the whole world is in ruins”. meanwhile, RAND Corporation experts believe that the most likely option is another continuation of the conflict with “limited attack” Russia against NATO due to military support for Ukraine. It is assumed, that Russia will make do with conventional weapons. In total, analysts are considering four scenarios, starting from the very “hard” to “demonstrative”. Moscow will explain its actions “reciprocal steps” to support Ukrainian attacks on Russian territories.
Most “hard” the scenario provides for missile attacks on six key air and sea ports of the alliance at once, including base “Rammstein” and the port of Rotterdam. Softer – attack on three military bases with threat of more strikes. Even softer – Russian Aerospace Forces will shoot down a US satellite. And in “demonstrative” Russian missile will hit an empty warehouse in Poland as a warning.
Next solution, how to react to this, the USA and NATO will have to accept, and this will do “very hard”, since the option of further escalation and use of nuclear weapons may work.