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As for possible Russian responses to the Armavir strike, Simplicius argues that nuclear weapons would not have much tactical utility in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are too dispersed to make viable targets for nuclear weapons or are near cities which Russia won’t attack. The one exception is airfields, which would be devastated by nuclear strikes “preventing their future use not only for Ukraine’s own remaining air fleet but the planned F-16s.”

“But there are other potential ways Russia could escalate without nukes, for instance finally clamping down on NATO surveillance flights and threatening to shoot down the drones over the Black Sea. This is actually a much larger deal than it seems: given that the U.S. has no real way of militarily responding to this, it would be a big humiliating black eye for NATO to have its drones shot down, and be unclothed as impotent to do anything about it.”

In Crimea this is being discussed. “We can and must shoot down NATO reconnaissance and strike-reconnaissance drones patrolling in neutral waters over the Black Sea. This is a matter of security for the south of Russia. Therefore, first of all, it is worth declaring them legitimate targets,” Crimean political expert Sergei Yukhin said in an interview with RIA Novosti, reported this morning.

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