The Economist this week
Highlights from the latest issue
• Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine 100 days ago by threatening countries tempted to interfere with consequences “such as you have never seen in your entire history”. Russian television has since tantalised viewers with chit-chat about nuclear Armageddon.
• The moral revulsion that restrains the use of nuclear weapons has been weakening. Weapons are proliferating. As memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki fade, there is insufficient alarm at the prospect of how hard it will be to keep the peace if many states have a bomb. The invasion of Ukraine adds to this malaise. Russia is unlikely to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. But Mr Putin’s threat has prompted NATO to limit the support it is prepared to offer the government in Kyiv. Some have warned that inflicting a defeat on Russia could back its president into a corner with devastating consequences.
• One implication of this is that vulnerable states that see the world through Ukraine’s eyes may feel that the best defence against a nuclear-armed aggressor is to have weapons of their own. The other is that nuclear-armed states may believe that they can gain by copying Mr Putin’s tactics. One day someone somewhere will surely turn their threat into reality. That must not be this war’s devastating legacy.
Zanny Minton Beddoes