The positioning of the military alliance has been the cause of much controversy regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Pope Francis suggested the conflict was “perhaps somehow provoked”, recalling a conversation in which he was warned that NATO was “barking at Russia’s doorstep”.
Others have speculated that Vladimir Putin may have been prompted by his alleged failing health.
Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has put forward what he called a “bold idea” to end the ongoing conflict.
He wrote in a Twitter post: “NATO is offering to remove nuclear weapons from Europe (military useless deterrents, as we have just seen, and recklessly dangerous) in exchange for an end to the invasion.
“Putin gets a ‘victory’ that costs us nothing worthwhile.”
The director of the nuclear information project, Hans Kristensen, agreed that it would be “really bold”.
He wrote: “I agree that US nuclear weapons in Europe are a ‘military useless and ineffective deterrent’, but NATO has not tried to deter anything with them in Ukraine and the Putin’s invasion forces NATO to keep them. And nuclear weapons are not important enough for Putin to accept that.
@lulzwow923 added: “That particular idea isn’t great, but if nothing else articles like this help get people into the headspace to make strategic trade-offs, something that will likely be needed to wrap things up without a larger war.”
Mr Pinker, however, received backlash to his post from other social media users.
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Others accused the Harvard professor of “appeasement”, arguing that he should “stick to his field”.
Journalist Kevin Rothrock noted, however, that many of the responses followed a very similar theme.
He wrote: “The quote tweets responding to this suggestion indicate that talk of any strategic compromise with Moscow remains treacherous/idiotic in Twittersphere discourse.”
This is despite a recent intelligence report from Ukrainian and Western officials pointing out that Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces are outmatched by Russia 20 to one in artillery and 40 to one in ammunition.
Western countries currently supporting Ukraine are also running out of their own stocks.
The UK recently had to purchase howitzers from a third source to send to Ukraine due to its own shortages.
Rising costs in the country could make it politically dangerous to impose new sanctions and provide more military support.
Mr Pinker’s suggestion is unlikely to gain traction among NATO officials, who have been seeking to expand further since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both in terms of size and military capabilities.