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An argument now widely heard is that Ukraine would not be in the trouble it is in had it retained its substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War.Nuclear weapons are simply not the effective deterrent that most people think, whether the context is deterring war between large nuclear-armed powers or protecting weaker states against conventional attack.There is no evidence that at any time during the Cold War either the Soviet Union or the U.S. sought war and was constrained only by the other side's nuclear weapons.President Vladimir Putin knows that Ukraine would be no more likely than the U.S. to nuke Moscow for sending tanks into Crimea or even Dnepropetrovsk.Nuclear weapons are not the stabilizing tools that they are commonly assumed to be. Whatever the reason, conflicts have regularly occurred in which nuclear weapons could have played a part, but did not. It is more plausible to think that it is the presence of nuclear weapons that has made the world safer for such wars.
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