Today, we opened Red Lines in Ukraine, a new forecasting collaboration with nuclear security expert Peter Scoblic designed to provide an early warning indicator of potential Russian nuclear use.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western policymakers have been concerned that aid to Ukraine could provoke Putin to order the use of nuclear weapons. Ukraine and NATO have crossed some of the "red lines" that Putin established, but so far these actions have not resulted in the worst-case scenarios.

A question then is: which actions by Ukraine or Western nations would alter the odds of Russian nuclear use, and in which directions?

Therefore, this project is structured to elicit forecasts on both:

  • the likelihood of specific outcomes
  • the likelihood nuclear weapons will be used given these outcomes

For example, one question asks:

Will the US supply Ukraine with an Army Tactical Missile System?

This question resolving as ‘yes’ would imply an update to the likelihood a nuclear weapon will be used, but the direction of the update depends on one’s beliefs about how wars are likely to end or escalate.

In order to probe these beliefs, questions then elicit forecasts on the use of nuclear weapons conditional on those particular outcomes, e.g.:

If the US announces it will supply ATACMS to Ukraine, what is the probability Russia will use nuclear weapons?

We invite the forecasting community to begin sharing predictions to generate a clearer picture of which acts are likely to escalate conflict, and so provide guidance for action. 

Learn more here.

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