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  • Mariah Nimmons

Nuclear Temperatures Rise

A NOTE: Our Russia-Ukraine Resources are updated weekly - if you're accessing the page a week or more past the below date, pieces mentioned in this post may have been removed to make room for up-to-date resources.


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Updated Resources - June 21, 2023


Russian political scientist, economist, academic, and advisor to both Yeltsin and Putin Sergei Karaganov spoke out in favor of a preemptive nuclear strike against NATO last week. Pictured here at a conference in London in 2015. (Chatham House, London, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  • Al Jazeera Lists of Key Events: June 15 / June 16 / June 17 / June 18 / June 19 / June 20 / June 21

  • The Kyiv Independent Newsfeed

  • Meduza Newsfeed

  • Novaya Gazeta Europe Newsfeed

 

Nuclear expert, political activist, economist, and military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, speaking at a press conference, New York City. 1 January 1972. (Gotfryd, Bernard, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


WHAT'S ON OUR MIND


Beneath the more conspicuous devastation wrought daily by this war, an even graver spectre lurks. From its outset, the risk of this conflict spiraling into a nuclear confrontation has been ever present in the minds of leaders, experts, and civilians alike. At the start of 2023 watchdog nonprofit organization Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of their ‘Doomsday Clock’ to 90 seconds to midnight - the closest to global catastrophe its ever been - due largely to the mounting dangers in Ukraine. In today’s collection, we explore the current nuclear climate, contemplating the risks of nuclear weapons use and unintentional damage to nuclear power facilities, and the current state of international arms control.


Last week, Russian political scientist, economist, academic, and advisor to both Yeltsin and Putin - the latter to whom he is still considered close, Sergei Karaganov, penned an article in favor of a preemptive nuclear strike on an undetermined NATO target in Eastern Europe. The comment elicited strong reactions across the spectrum. Today, we include his original article as well as a rebuttal from another Russian thought leader in our collection. Find also a query from independent Russian media seeking to understand Karaganov’s evolution from a ‘1990s liberal, loyal to the system’ to a ‘propagandist’.


Also included in today’s collection is a closer look at Putin’s decision to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, with special attention given to the move’s political utility. Another piece argues that it’s not only Russia and Putin who have embraced and harnessed the nuclear threat, but increasingly the US and China as well.


We also offer an examination of current strategic relations between the US and Russia following the de facto dissolution of New START at the beginning of the year. The end of New Start highlights the need to stabilize dialogue between the two nuclear powers.


Across the border in Ukraine the nuclear risk is ever present, not only that which is posed by weapons use but also by the possibility of catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, rendered all the more tenuous by last week’s Kakhovka dam breach. Today we include an update from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the ground in Zaporizhzhia, as well as a Ukrainian perspective on a worrying alleged development at the plant from the nation’s intelligence chief.


Taking a step back from the current imminent nuclear threats, we also offer insights into the world of nonproliferation, including an impassioned argument for why a diversity of voices in this space strengthens security and helps to reshape disarmament. Finally, we share sad news of the passing of Daniel Ellsberg, nuclear expert, political activist, economist, and military analyst. Today’s collection honors his legacy with the inclusion of interviews from this well-respected giant in the nuclear arena.

 

ARTICLES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST

Find these stories and more on our Resource Page

  • The Other Counteroffensive to Save Ukraine (Foreign Affairs)

  • As Russians fight for Ukraine, Kyiv is faced with a new dilemma (Al Jazeera)

  • A Love Letter from Russia to America (The Moscow Times)

  • People’s Attachment to a Homeland that Suddenly Feels Less Like Home (Russia.Post)

  • ‘The occupiers will leave and we’ll rebuild again’ (Novaya Gazeta Europe)

  • NATO Has No Good News for Ukraine (Foreign Policy)

  • Ukraine war: what international law says about the Russians fighting against their own country (The Conversation)

  • What Can History Tell Us About Ukraine’s Future? (Foreign Affairs)

  • Is China the only way for peace to come to Ukraine? (Responsible Statecraft)

  • Ukraine war: how Putin’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda is an attempt to build support for the invasion (The Conversation)

  • The Western Media Is Whitewashing the Azov Battalion (The Nation)

  • 'It was hell.' Mother speaks of rescuing her child from Russian captivity (The Kyiv Independent)

  • Dmitry Trenin: Putin has just revealed Russia's strategy for ending the Ukraine conflict (RT)

 

Afghans demonstrate in The Hague against Russian presence in Afghanistan. December 27 1985 (Roba Bogaerts / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


OVERVIEW


In the overview, parallels between protesting the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and protesting today’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

ARTS


Left to right: Domus Solis at Lanzheron beach by Odesan sculptor Mikhail Reva (Michail Reva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons), Photo of Dimitri Tiomkin working in the studio on the score of Search for Paradise (Cinerama Corp., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons), Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv was created by Russian artists fleeing repression in the 1920s (Yair Haklai, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


In the arts, the acclaimed Odesan sculptor Mikhail Reva making a statement with missile fragments, Russian theater escapes repressions at home and finds renewal in Israel, a book tracks the sources of the war from its conception and follows the first months of the conflict, celebrated author Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel set in Russia and the boundaries of art in wartime, and Dimitri Tiomkin, the composer from Ukraine who achieved critical acclaim in the West.






STATEMENT

Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy stands in opposition to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. We have many friends in both countries and we stand with the people of Ukraine and Russia. We deplore their suffering.


Track Two does not believe violent conflict or war are valid means to push political agendas. Today, threats to our existence from nuclear arms, climate catastrophes, diseases and cyberattacks are intensifying, and we do not believe any country should resort to violence. All people, of all nations, have a right to peace, meaningful work, shelter and food. Much collective work must be done to ensure our children and grandchildren can live full lives in a habitable world.


We believe there are humane and diplomatic avenues to coexistence that must be explored to mutual benefit. Let's arrive at these with deliberation so that we can continue work essential to preventing the end of life on this planet.


More than ever, it is incumbent upon all of us to be acutely aware of the disinformation campaigns orbiting the globe, and offer support to those who need it most. To that end, we've compiled a selection of resources from our team and network as we follow this crisis closely.


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