There are many ways in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the world a more dangerous, brutish and frightening place.

One is by raising the potential for nuclear Armageddon. Two scenarios stand out. The first involves the short term; the other, the long.

In the short term, we’re all hoping his latest nuclear threat is just a bluff. During the rant announcing his attack on Ukraine, Putin sent this not-too-subtle message to the West: Try to stop me and "you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. ... I hope you hear me.” A couple of days later he ordered his country’s nuclear forces to adopt "special combat readiness.”