Is the World In Line for a Nuclear War?

November 18th, 2023 - by Gilbert Doctorow / Substack

Are We in a Countdown to All-out Nuclear War?
Gilbert Doctorow / Substack

(November 16, 2023) — The mood of panelists and presenter on this past Sunday’s Evening with Vladimir Solovyov talk show was deeply pessimistic and the reason had nothing whatever to do with Russia’s situation in its war with Ukraine. On the contrary, feelings about the war were entirely upbeat.

The recently published interview in The Economist by Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Zaluzhny confirmed to the world public the dire prospects facing the Ukrainian army that Russians had been saying among themselves for some time.

Indeed, even in Western media it is now on the field of battle to one Russian casualty. Ukrainian losses are put at more than 400,000 soldiers and officers. And concurrently, both financial and military aid from the United States and its European allies is becoming problematic.

The pessimistic mood on the show had other, more general considerations that should give us pause as well. As one panelist remarked, global politics today very much resemble the period that preceded the estimated that the Ukrainians have lost 10 to 12 soldiers killed or severely maimed

outbreak of World War I. There are nasty wars here and there. There are peace conferences which lead to nothing. There are powers, meaning the United States, which in the recent words of Joe Biden, exult in being the most mighty on this earth, able to fight on multiple fronts.  All of this led Vladimir Solovyov to sum up what comes next: a nuclear war is now inevitable, he said.

Of course, the vicious Israeli rampage in Gaza was a contributing factor to this gloom. All arguments from morality or ‘universal values’ have been stripped away. We are left with might makes right being practiced by those who believe they are untouchable.

If you pay attention, you see that the West, and Europe in particular, is staging one provocation against Russia after another with complete indifference to where this may lead.

One month ago, Latvia was threatening to close the Baltic to Russian ships as punishment for the possible Russian involvement in damage to the Balticonnector pipeline.  That scandal quickly dispelled when the Finns announced that the likely cause was the anchor of a passing Chinese merchant vessel which detached during a storm.

However, now a similar threat has been issued by the European Commission as it has directed Denmark to inspect and possibly arrest oil tankers carrying Russian oil passing through Danish territorial waters on their way to the Atlantic for deliveries worldwide. The inspections will be to see if the vessels have proper European insurance coverage or not and the pretext for arrest will be that the vessels pose an environmental hazard.

All of this is in answer to the findings of the Financial Times that nearly all Russian oil exported by sea is now being sold at well above the $60 ceiling mandated by Europe thanks to a shadow fleet that Russia assembled in the past year. October oil sold at $80, that is just $10 below Brent.

One wonders whether anyone in Brussels or in Copenhagen stopped to think what response the Russians may make to any threats to stop their oil shipments by force on the seas.  Russia is not some far away Iran without the wherewithal to react in these waters.  No, the Russian Baltic naval fleet is very powerful, not to mention their available air power and ship-destroying missiles fired from several thousand kilometers away.

And the Danes?  Wikipedia tells us their entire navy consists of ‘3,400 personnel, 16 ships, 28 vessels and 30 boats.’ I assume that is in descending order of size and might. How many days or more likely how many hours would they hold out against the Russians?  And what comes next?

The Finns, for their part, are also busy poking the bear. Yesterday they announced the closing of border crossings with Russia, claiming that Moscow is sending illegal undocumented migrants from Third World countries to them just as Belarus had allegedly been doing a year ago at their border with Poland.

Having crossed that border six or eight times in the last couple of years by bus, I know full well that the Russian bus operators were very strict in demanding that the paperwork of all passengers be fully in conformity with the relevant regulations on both sides of the border. Nearly all of these passengers have necessarily been dual nationals since tourists with only Russian passports are not admitted into Finland.

In response to the Finnish action, the two main bus lines carrying passengers between St Petersburg and Helsinki, EcoLines and Lux, have just announced termination of their services effective 18 November. This means that the only practical way for Europeans to get to Russia will be by flying via Istanbul or Dubai.  This will double or triple the cost of a visit and take people to people exchanges back to the worst times of the Cold War.  Only this war is more likely to be Hot.

© Gilbert Doctorow, 2023

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.