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US response to Russia: ‘We are engaged in a vicious nuclear diplomacy’

Professor available on US and NATO’s Russian military strategy

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The U.S., its NATO allies and the G7 nations continue to work to hold Putin accountable for his aggression against Ukraine. Northwestern University political scientist William Reno, an expert on the politics of violent conflict and the political effects of foreign military assistance is available to discuss avenues available for providing aid to Ukraine, and what needs to be off the table to avoid escalation of conflict between the nuclear-armed powers of the U.S. and Russia.

Reno is chair of the department of political science and a professor of international relations and comparative politics. He is the author of three books on the politics of violence and state collapse in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Reno also is the principal investigator for a Minerva Research Initiative project to study Foreign Military Training (FMT) as part of U.S. efforts to build defense relationships promoting U.S. security interests and NATO and European Union strategic objectives in the Middle East and Africa. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Reno
“We are engaged in nuclear diplomacy. The U.S. national interest and European NATO partners’ interest in this is to make the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine very expensive. And they figured this is the only way to change Russian behavior. We must realize that Russia has nuclear weapons and the U.S. has nuclear weapons, and what we are engaged in is a vicious nuclear diplomacy. 

“We cannot do things like have no-fly zones because what this will lead to is the engagement of Russian and NATO soldiers. That should be off the table between nuclear-armed powers. We must avoid escalation. But what we can do is we can communicate through violence through proxies and other actions which are being read by an adversary and vice versa. Military-to-military communication between the U.S. and Russia is pretty good right now. They’re not friendly. But we are engaged in nuclear diplomacy.

“The cold truth is that at this point we cannot give a great deal of material assistance to Ukraine’s armed forces and to possible guerilla forces under occupation. There is some assistance, but we have to be mindful of this problem of escalation in the nuclear world. You won’t see aircraft coming from U.S. military bases into Ukraine airspace. We can’t share real-time intelligence with Ukrainian fighters as if they were avatars of U.S. forces. 

“But there are these little gray zones of things you can do. We have a Cold War playbook.”