Six Scenarios How Russia May Use Nukes

Discussion of the unthinkable — The scenarios for Russia to use nuclear weapons

21 min readNov 10, 2022


The Catalyst — Putin’s War on Ukraine

After almost 8 months of conflict, the war in Ukraine is tipping in favor of the defenders and against Putin’s vaunted army. The highly motivated, resourceful, and well-supported forces of Ukraine are making a fool of Putin, his threatening rhetoric, implausible narratives, and the entire Russian military war machine. The conflict has degraded to a point that Putin has begun irrationally threatening the use of nuclear weapons — a reckless posturing that may come to fruition.

The chances of a nuclear engagement are still slim, with most of Russia’s propaganda being a political ploy to disincentivize the support from the West, but the real risks are not zero and have grown significantly over the past few months.

Desperation Always Leads to the Worst Options.

As an intellectual exercise, it is valuable to discuss what such a foolish move may look like, how it would unfold, and detail the unthinkable — scenarios for Russia to use nuclear weapons.

The Russian conquest of Ukraine was supposed to be quick and easy, but Putin’s grandiose vision of an expanded Russia has crashed and is unceremoniously burning at his feet. Putin is becoming desperate for international support, economic stability, weapon supplies, and battlefield successes. His very existence may be at stake domestically, given his approach of misinformation, false narratives, and disrespect for the lives of his countrymen. For the first time in decades, Putin is at risk of losing his totalitarian grip on the Russian people.

As the number of paths to success dwindle over time, Putin is making progressively more desperate decisions in hopes of finding a way to win or destroy his opposition.

Putin is a man of focus with visions of greatly increasing power, which has manifested in delusions of grandeur. He sees himself as the heroic leader, like a re-envisioning of tsars of the past, who will deliver the manifest destiny of his and Russia’s greater glory. Putin has methodically elevated himself…




CISO and cybersecurity Strategist specializing in the evolution of threats, opportunities, and risks in pursuit of optimal security