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Marina Henke and Felix Lemmer explore reactions to hypothetical Russian nuclear strike

In FOCUS Online, Henke and Lemmer argue that the German reaction might be different than Putin expects.

In a recent guest article on FOCUS Online entitled 'Nuclear escalation would be different than Putin assumes', Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security, and Felix Lemmer, Research Associate at the Centre for International Security, explain why a Russian tactical nuclear strike is possible in the war in Ukraine and how the German population might react. 

The article draws on survey research conducted by Henke and Lemmer in spring 2021 and summer 2022 which asked a representative German sample about a hypothetical scenario in which Russia has conducted a demonstration strike with a tactical nuclear weapon to halt a NATO defense of Latvia. As Henke and Lemmer clarify, the goal of such an escalation would not be to destroy the opponent but to scare Europeans and NATO into de-escalating and entering negotiations. However, the survey results show that while many Germans are unsure what the right response to a nuclear escalation would be, peace negotations is certainly less popular than more aggressive responses. 

Read the full article here (in German). 


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More about the experts

  • Marina Henke, Professor of International Relations | Director, Centre for International Security
  • Felix Lemmer, Research Associate, Centre for International Security