• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size


E-mail Print PDF










Govts of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany.


Dear President Putin:

I remind you that last June you agreed with President Biden that 'A Nuclear war Cannot be won and must never be fought'.

Escalation from the conventional level to the nuclear level over the war on Ukraine, which Russia seems to be in the process of losing, would have to be the ultimate truly diabolical idea, even from within your own Russia-centric and indeed, Putin-centric, perspective. It would of course completely violate the above pledge.

In more prosaic terms, escalation to the nuclear level, whether directly or via the use of tactical nuclear weapons on military targets (which would certainly escalate to strategic nuclear use), would have powerful negative rather than positive impacts on:

--The survival of your own regime

--Your own personal, physical survival and the physical survival of all those near and dear to you

--The physical survival of all of Russia.

--On the survival of what we currently call 'civilisation' and of humans as a species.

There is no compensatory geopolitical advantage for a Russia that would no longer exist, and your own physical survival would be unlikely.

The large scale (i.e. strategic) use of nuclear weapons either by Russia or by NATO or both (God forbid) will result in the complete destruction of both societies, and the death of possibly a majority of humans in hours. The planet would then be subject to a prolonged nuclear winter lasting decades in which human survival itself might be problematic.

Modern technological 'civilisation' can of course be destroyed by as few as five weapons in space above continental landmasses, optimised to EMP, which would return us to medieval times in nanoseconds.

It is well known that Russia has the worlds largest, and arguably (though this is not certain) the worlds most capable, nuclear arsenal.

This is simply irrelevant.

Past a certain point neither megatonnage nor even capability matter much any more, once each side has the capacity to inflict total and complete destruction on the other side and once each side has the ability to retaliate and utterly destroy the other side from as it were, 'beyond the grave'. Both sides – NATO and Russia – have had this capability for decades. Having a few hundreds more warheads than NATO, or even having hypersonic weapons that can do somersaults at mach-whatever is irrelevant when old fashioned ICBMs can do the job perfectly well. Nothing fundamentally changes or can possibly change.

Your state TV anchor, stated that in the event of a nuclear war everyone would die, but that Russians would 'go to heaven', while others (presumably NATO and the US citizens) would 'just cark it'. I note that she echoes language of your own from 2014.

Such theology precisely mirrors that of US senator Strom Thurmond 40 years ago, who remarked that 'the righteous will be raptured to heaven'. Of course for Thurmond, the 'righteous' meant people like himself, and it was Russians who would 'just cark it' or go to the other place. The mirror – imaging of nominally competing theologies of destruction is uncanny.

I would refrain from tempting the Lord in a matter in which all concerned believe themselves to be the 'righteous' and believe their opponents to be damned.

Many theologians, orthodox or otherwise, would consider ALL such theologies to be not divine, but utterly diabolical.

Russia is heir to an orthodox mystical theological strand whose adherents and practitioners would have difficulty to recognise theologies that encourage or excuse universal destruction as recognisably Christian at all. They would correctly identify them rather as both heretical and diabolical.

Be that as it may, should you go down this path, as long as there is anyone human left alive to remember, your memory will be as amongst the truly damned, as worse (if possible) than Judas, as at the bottom-most level of the most awful hell. And it is at least possible that there won't be anyone left to remember.

In much more prosaic, realpolitik, geopolitical terms, you should recognise that invading Ukraine has been a colossal miscalculation and that the very best thing you can do for Russia’s geopolitical interests is to evacuate Ukraine as soon as you possibly can and to make amends to Ukraine for the damage done – a process which will of course take decades now. You are now in need of both theological AND geopolitical redemption. It could take a while.

Further involvement in ongoing military activities in Ukraine even if they bring immediate term military successes, do not serve, cannot serve, and never did serve, Russian national interests. Permanent occupation of Ukraine is an impossibility. You cannot hold down Ukraine in perpetuity. It will be a bleeding sore for Russia forever and trying to hold it down will drain and ultimately destroy, Russia.

It – paradoxically – will precisely play into the hands of those within NATO who wish to permanently weaken Russia to the point where it ceases to be a geopolitical factor at all.

Your invasion has already trashed Russian interests globally and an ongoing invasion will intensify this process. Russian assets are now in considerable danger of simply being confiscated. Further Russian gas and oil trade will inevitably case – if you do not cut it off yourselves in order to 'punish' those who don't like what you do, or who facilitate Ukraine's resistance, they will themselves cut it off in order to punish you. That this has not taken place thus far is astonishing, but take place it will, unless radical changes take place in Russian behaviour.

Escalation will not benefit Russia. Actual Nuclear escalation will end Russia. It will of course end the rest of the world too, and that is why the world rightly seeks to avoid it.

Threats of nuclear escalation also over the longer run will not benefit Russia. They may cause some immediate-term hesitation over specific weapons item deliveries though even there it is likely that means will be found to deliver those items too. However, people and governments do not like to be blackmailed, and may react by saying 'do your worst'. Your bluff may indeed be called.

And what will you do then? Destroy the world and be remembered as the scourge of humankind? Be pictured forever as the devil incarnate? Or be forced to back down?

Do not put yourself in this morally impossible position. And do indeed consider the fate of your immortal soul if, as an orthodox, you think you have one. What might be the consequences for unleashing a destruction more terrible by far than that of the mongols in the 13th century?

There is a much much better way. A negotiated settlement should be reached with Ukraine.

I do not under-estimate the difficulty of reaching an agreement with a government whose cities you have bombed to rubble.

However, it could be done – even if doing it took years.

It might be a worthy life project for whatever time you have left, or to bequeath to a successor. As a remainder-of-life project, reconciliation with Ukraine is the best one you could pick.

Both yourself and Zelensky have at various times outlined proposals on which with a serious attempt at negotiation, and with a serious dedication to achieving a result, and with a refusal simply to blame the other side when things do not work out, - proposals that have enough overlap they they could serve as a foundation for a neutral, fully independent, sovereign and above all peaceful Ukraine.

And for a Russia that is itself fully peaceful and sovereign and that has a future of intimate and productive relations both with Europe and with China and other asian countries.

With a Eurasia that is seamless from Lisbon or London to Kamchatka or even Alaska.

This is the alternative to an immediate future that is both theologically and really, on-the-ground, diabolical.

I am sure it is better than being regarded as the devil incarnate by whatever pitiful remnants of humanity remain in the post apocalyptic twilight in Patagonia, Tasmania, New Zealand, the Falklands, etc.

John Hallam

Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner

People for Nuclear Disarmament


Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it