West, Russia mull nuclear steps in a ‘more dangerous’ world

  • FILE - NATO Deputy General Secretary Rose Gottemoeller speaks during a press conference at a two-day seminar on NATO Allied Command Transformation in Hotel Marriott in Budapest, Hungary, March 23, 2017. Russia’s assault on Ukraine and its veiled threats of using nuclear arms have policymakers questioning how the West should respond to a Russian battlefield explosion of a nuclear bomb. It could entail doubling down on sanctions and isolation for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Gottemoeller, deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP, File)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 1, 2022. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

  • A new AP-NORC poll finds that most Americans are at least somewhat concerned about Russia using nuclear weapons against the United States, and concerns are even deeper about the nuclear threat to Ukraine.

  • FILE - A damaged gas mask lies on the pavement at a Russian position which was overran by Ukrainian forces, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 31, 2022. Russia’s assault on Ukraine and its veiled threats of using nuclear arms have policymakers questioning how the West should respond to a Russian battlefield explosion of a nuclear bomb. The default U.S. policy answer, say some architects of the post-Cold War nuclear order, is with discipline and restraint. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

WASHINGTON — Russia’s assault on Ukraine and its veiled threats of using nuclear arms have policymakers, past and present, thinking the unthinkable: How should the West respond to a Russian battlefield explosion of a nuclear bomb?