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‘Prolonging the Ukraine War Is Flirting with Nuclear Disaster’

That dire but accurate warning was delivered by Ivana Nikolić Hughes, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Peter Kuznick, Director of American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute, in a June 27 article in Responsible Statecraft, the publication of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. It caught the attention of Newsweek magazine, which then usefully brought this terrible danger to the attention of a broader audience. The two nuclear analysts are warning that “the longer the war in Eastern Europe continues between Russia and Ukraine and the more provocations that occur worldwide, the closer the entire world becomes to `flirting with nuclear disaster,’” Newsweek reported under the headline “'Nuclear Disaster’ Warning Issued by Analysts Over Ukraine War.”

Hughes and Kuznick argue that nuclear war might not come about from a deliberate decision to launch a nuclear attack. A conventional war between NATO and Russia could go nuclear, for example. They view the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation as the greatest danger.

They remind: Nuclear war today would “bear little resemblance to the American atomic bomb attacks on Japan. Rather than killing a couple hundred thousand people, as Fat Man and Little Boy did in 1945, today’s weapons could kill and injure millions of people, and possibly hundreds of millions. Add to this count the billions around who would starve to death as a result of nuclear winter and subsequent crop failures and you have a recipe for the end of human civilization as we know it….

“As former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev poignantly stated in the aftermath of the greatest previous nuclear crisis, `Peace is the most important goal in the world. If we don’t have peace and the nuclear bombs start to fall, what difference will it make whether we are Communists or Catholic or capitalists or Chinese or Russians or Americans? Who could tell us apart? Who will be left to tell us apart?’”

Therefore, the nuclear experts insist, “it’s time to change policy on Ukraine and to stop the escalation escalator before it is too late.”

A good place to start to get out of this danger, they write, is the six-point proposal issued by Brazil and China, which asserts that “dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis, as would be an emergency meeting of world leaders that the UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres could call for. Continuing to play nuclear roulette is not an acceptable path forward,” they add.