Publisher’s note: Carlos Alberto Montaner is a writer, journalist and contributor to CNN. His columns are published in dozens of newspapers in Spain, the United States and Latin America. Montaner is also vice president of the Liberal International. The opinions expressed herein are solely theirs. See more at cnne.com/opinion
(CNN Spanish) — Russia threatens to deploy more nuclear weapons if Sweden and Finland join NATO. It will not. It is a bluff. Why is Putin able or willing to risk his power over Russia? It is already known that the fifth article of NATO says, as the motto of the musketeers says, “one for all and all for one”. Russia would be thoroughly destroyed if it dared to launch a nuclear barrage against either country.
There are only three countries that have nuclear weapons within NATO: the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. The United States can destroy Russia several times. (The US has 3,750 warheads, just one is enough.) Russia can also destroy the United States several times. (Russia has 1,444 warheads, and even just one is enough.) The UK and France have some 225 and 290 nuclear warheads respectively. It is enough for them and they have more than enough to devastate Russia. Some are aboard submarines that can be submerged for months at a time and be in perpetual motion. They could be in the peephole Moscow (12.6 million inhabitants) and Saint Petersburg (5.5 million). But also maybe Novosibirsk, Novgorod, Kazan and other cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants.
There are two really important news. One is that, as Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov told CNN’s Erin Burnett, Russian General Sergey Beseda has ended up in Lefortovo prison. Beseda was the head of Intelligence and was in charge, among other things, of maintaining official contacts with the CIA. It is not known if he lied to Putin, or if he is a simple scapegoat to try to contain information about the problems in the Federal Security Service, or if he is someone who will eventually appear and his mission is to discredit the Ukrainians. , especially now that they claim they have sunk the flagship of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.
The other: a few years ago a simple Cuban soldier from a Russian tank unit in Pinar del Río, very close to Havana, went into exile in Miami. I talked to him and he told me that, at one time, none of the Russian tanks were available for combat. He told me that the ones that seemed better were missing the battery, since it had been stolen to be sold on the black market, where they fetched a good price for the out-of-stock tractors.
I believe that we must find a way of negotiating to allow Russia to “save face”. This new crisis looks a lot like that one. In October 1962, when the missile crisis broke out, the United States and NATO sacrificed part of the rocketry that was in Turkey and guaranteed that the United States did not invade Cuba. The objective was to satisfy Fidel Castro and find an explanation for the installation and then the removal of the missiles in Cuba.
It seems to me that Putin, at this stage of the invasion, knows that the Russian Armed Forces are a “paper tiger”, but with atomic fangs. It is not convenient to humiliate him, but neither is it convenient to allow him to do what he wants with NATO. If Finland and Sweden want to belong to the defensive organization, they are within their rights. NATO is also a treaty to prevent nuclear proliferation, which is perfect for a Russian excuse.
In any case, Sweden and Finland can build nuclear weapons against Russia if this country insists that they not enter NATO. No one messes with North Korea, which shares a border with Russia. They have the atomic bomb and the possibility of rocketing to Tokyo or Seoul. All they have to do is modify the warhead to make sure they carry a nuclear charge. They, the North Koreans, say they can burn Los Angeles or San Francisco. Maybe they could destroy Washington or New York. Nobody, logically, risks finding out. Has no sense. Sweden and Finland can achieve the same as Moscow. Therefore, if I were an adviser to Putin (God save me from that torment), I would tell him that they are better off inside NATO than outside.