It’s been a year since Russia annexed Crimea and the nuclear rumors are flying. Earlier this month, Russian officials speculated about whether or not Russia could place nuclear weapons in Crimea. And in a video apparently intended to mark the anniversary of the annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert at the time of annexation. However Ukraine and Crimea have been free of nuclear weapons for more than 20 years.
Ironically, deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Crimea could result in NATO pursuing options to increase its capabilities.
Given the current breadth of dissatisfaction in the U.S.-Russia relationship, some observers might be tempted to respond to these provocations with a “good riddance” attitude. Now more than ever, U.S. and Russian officials need to come back to the table and not just talk, but also listen.