The most dangerous global crisis today is in Ukraine. And the war is escalating. Ukraine knocked out part of the $4 billion Kerch Bridge connecting Russia’s only direct route across the Sea of Azov with Crimea. This was a strategic, tactical and psychological victory paralleling the stunning Ukrainian army advances in retaking territory formerly seized by Russia. Unable to mount a retaliatory counterattack against the Ukrainian Army, Vladimir Putin resorted to Hitler’s cowardly terror bombing of London during the Blitz. That only strengthened British resolve. In striking civilian targets, the same phenomenon is taking place in Ukraine. Sixty years ago at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and as the naval quarantine isolated the island, Soviet ships suddenly reversed course and headed home. Then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk exclaimed, “I think the other guy just blinked.” In hitting civilian, not military targets, perhaps it was Putin who blinked. Ukraine is not Cuba. President Joe Biden called Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in this crisis “armageddon.” While very unlikely, this nuclear scenario cannot be entirely ignored. And if Putin used his nuclear arsenal, it would be wrong to assume it would be limited to just one weapon. Unable to mount a retaliatory counterattack against the Ukrainian Army, Vladimir Putin resorted to Hitler’s cowardly terror bombing of London during the Blitz. Metaphorically having crossed this Rubicon and burning that bridge behind him, if he decided to use nuclear weapons, more than a single Putinic symbolic demonstration would be needed. The purpose would be to shock and awe the US and NATO into paralysis and force Ukraine to accept peace terms. What might this mean if it occurred? Using the Cold War RAND Bomb Damage Computer, the effects of “small” nuclear to “huge” thermonuclear blasts can be calculated. If 10-20 20KT weapons (equivalent to 10-20,000 tons of TNT) were dropped on key locations west of the Dnieper River bisecting Ukraine from north to south the country would be destroyed as a functioning state. Whether Putin would risk nuclear war probably precludes this ticking time bomb from exploding. However, many ticking other time bombs are in place around the world. The Chinese Communist Party’s Twentieth Congress will be taking place this month giving Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term as president and paramount leader. Is this an opportunity for China to act aggressively against Taiwan or make a show of force elsewhere? Are the US and its allies prepared for any threatening scenarios? North Korea’s Kim Jung Un has been exercising missile and nuclear diplomacy, firing a rocket over Japan and threatening further nuclear tests. With US attention on Ukraine, will Kim exploit this moment? And could Kim precipitate a crisis? The Persian Gulf is not working out well for the US. Russia and Saudi Arabia have gained an OPEC agreement to cut oil production. That will raise gasoline prices as well as humiliate President Biden who went hat in hand to the Kingdom last summer to strike a deal with de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman. And Iran, while seemingly snubbing US initiatives to re-establish the nuclear agreement, is happy selling drones to Russia for use in Ukraine. Similarly, the Maghreb is overheating. Morocco and Algeria have escalated rhetoric and threats against each other over Western Sahara. The Libyan civil war meanwhile could be escalated by Russia. And moving a bit east, Turkey has threatened to attack its NATO ally Greece and so far, along with Hungary, has not agreed to the accession of Finland and Sweden to the alliance. All these potentially external time bombs are ticking as Americans go to the polls next month. Given the dire partisan divide here, no matter how the elections are decided and which party gains or loses control of what each wants, major protests and even violence cannot be discounted. And one Trump and possibly one Biden may well be indicted if not before, then possibly after, the election. This is not 1914 except perhaps in one way. As war clouds were darkening over Europe then, the view from France’s Quai d’Orsay was of a situation that was serious but not yet desperate. The realists in Berlin’s chancellery drew the opposite conclusion: a situation that was desperate but not fully serious. Will any of these ticking time bombs explode and, if so, when? The object must be to defuse or contain as many as possible. If Congress, the White House and the public are not paying sufficient attention to these potential time bombs, some will go off. And then what will we do? At that point, it may be a bit too late. The writer is a senior advisor at Washington, DC’s Atlantic Council and a published author.