Estonian defense experts differ on whether Putin could order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine following the Kerch Bridge explosion.
Russian military logistics are rail-centric. Until recently, a safe route that led over the Kerch Bridge could be used. For as long as the bridge remains out of commission, the alternative supply route will lead through occupied territory. A look at the map suggests it is too close to battles for comfort.
Reserve Lt. Col. Leo Kunnas said that the Kerch rail link used for the lion's share of Russia's military logistics will be disrupted.
"They will have to use ferries again or go through occupied southern Ukraine. Keeping the Kerch contingent supplied will become even more difficult," he said.
Kalev Stoicescu from the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) suggested that symbolically speaking, the bridge is an ever bigger blow [to Russia] thank the sinking of missile cruiser Moskva.
Asked whether Putin could order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kunnas suggested it would have little military effect.
"The fighting is taking place in Russian annexed territories. I see no real possibility of using nuclear weapons against them. At the same time, I'm sure the Ukrainian command is avoiding major concentrations of troops or munitions behind the front lines so as not to tempt the Russian side," Kunnas remarked.
Political analyst Karmo Tüür took a different view. He emphasized that we do not know who organized the Nord Stream and Kerch Bridge explosions and suggested they are linked.
"This version suggests that both the Nord Stream and Kerch explosions were organized by Russia following different motives. In this case, that there are competing factions in Moscow. And there is a group of hawks trying to force Putin's hand to resort to nuclear weapons. The logic behind it is very simple. If he decides to press the nuclear button, he will reveal himself to be a supervillain and can be removed. If he fails to do so, Putin will have shown weakness, and there is once again reason to take him down," Tüür offered.
According to the analyst's version, a nuclear strike could hit western Ukraine to disrupt Ukrainian supply routes.
Editor: Marcus Turovski