One thing we can be thankful for! Our independent nuclear deterrent. If ever there was a good reason for keeping and renewing our submarine launched nuclear missiles, Putin and Russia is it!
As the use of force is the only thing Putin seems to respect, I think his little adventure in the Ukraine will stop before he threatens a NATO country. I don't think the Russian people will allow him to risk the prospect of nuclear war.
"are you really envisaging we would ever be standing alone, threatening Russia??"
No, not at all. What I am saying is that Putin only respects the use of force, we would not act against him without our partners in NATO. But he must know that if his recreation of the old soviet sphere of influence were to involve an attack on a NATO country (Poland for instance) then he must expect that a nuclear response would be a possibility!
NATO's nuclear weapons are what will ensure his little adventure does not go beyond Ukraine's borders.
What is the difference between a referendum for Crimea or Scotland? Both have autonomous governments and borders. If this were a true invasion, things may be different. The Russians did not threaten nuclear war when the USA and a few others invaded Iraq, and this is not the time or event to use the doomsday threat.
I am not for one moment advocating first use. Our nuclear deterrent is just that a deterrent! But without nuclear weapons and a dramatic run down of our conventional forces, it would have left us dangerously exposed to Putins adventures.
Our nuclear weapons along with those of the US and France I believe guarantee that the belligerent Russian bear would think long and hard before employing on a NATO country the tactics we have witnessed this week used against Ukraine.