Taken together, Putin’s comments represent a radical change in the way nuclear weapons have traditionally been referenced. During the Cold War, they were used as a deterrent from nuclear attack. Neither the United States nor Russia alluded to nuclear weapons as part of any offensive plan.
Putin’s comments are a departure from this norm. He’s suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used as part of a strategy to take Ukraine.
However, a closer examination of the threat pokes a hole in Putin’s bluster.