The whole purpose of "eastern europe" for the Soviets was to ensure that the ground being fought over was not Soviet.
As you say... a conflict like that and both sides lose... very badly.
Just as well it never happened.
That was not true already since end of '50 years : as well highlighted in the documents now declassified and penetrated in the West ,such as the Czechoslovak and Polish documents by 1964 and 1968 showing a part of the Warsaw Pact's plan for a war in Europe, URSS planners had foreseen the chance to consistently win a war in Europe characterized by extensive use of tactical nuclear weapons
by both sides on the basis of the experimental results proving the very high resilience of purposely equipped armoured and motorized divisions to indirect and secondary effects of nuclear weapon's detonations
.In this optic ,enclosing also the active using of tactical nuclear weapons by part of Soviet Forces
...to that of NATO Forces, with the aim to attack directly NATO's nuclear weapon's depots and airbases , a central factor
playing in favour of the feasibility and positive success chances of a similar plan was the huge advantage not only numerical but also in the composition of Force's Structure enjoyed by Warsaw Pact over NATO
(the former had a very high Force's fraction composed by Armoured and anti-NBC equipped motorized and self propelled artillery divisions against a much greater fraction of immensely more vulnerable Air Force's vehicles and light divisions of the latter).
The two elements playing
,in reality, more strongly against the realization of such a Soviet plan
1) URSS planners
,in spite of strong indicators, was not totally sure that the lack of employment of strategic weapons or direct attack on US soil would have assured that the conflict would have not escaladed toward a full
...and truly apocalyptic...thermonuclear war
2) Until the appearance of RSD-10 URSS had no nuclear weapon capable of a truly selective ,surgical strike on enemy key assets
,factor that would have greatly increased the chance of extensive involvement of civil populated area in the opening nuclear strike at its own time increasing the chances of realization of the risks described in point 1.
Those tow extracts from comments ,by respectively Petr Luňákto and Gen. William E. Odom, to the now declassified 1964 Czechoslovak invasion plans can get some light on those points.
"In the thinking of the Czechoslovak and probably of the Soviet military headquarters of the time, nuclear weapons would determine the speed of war but not its entire character.
Since nuclear arms considerably shortened the stages of war, according to the Eastern logic, it became necessary to try to gain the decisive initiative with a powerful strike against enemy forces, making use of the moment of surprise.
Contrary to the U.S. doctrine of massive retaliation, the Soviet bloc's response would have made use not only of nuclear weapons, but, in view of Soviet conventional superiority, also of conventional weapons. This massive retaliation, in the Soviet view, did not make planning beyond it irrelevant. Contrary to Western planners of the time,Soviet strategists assumed that their massive strike would only create the conditions for winning the war by the classic method of seizing enemy territory.
Once persuaded by the preposterous idea of winning a nuclear war, Eastern bloc operational plans looked upon such a war a realistic scenario thereby downgrading any Western deterrent and making a war perilously more realitic as a prospect."
“The Plan of Actions of the Czechoslovak People’s Army for War Period, “ dated 1964, is of special interest to me. During 1955-58, I served as company grade officer in a mechanized infantry battalion in the 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany, and also in the tank battalion of the 11th Airborne Division. The armored cavalry screened the Czech border from Hof in the north to Passau in the South.
The 11th Airborne Division operated behind the reconnaissance screen of the armored cavalry and planned to fight delaying actions, slowing down and frustrating advancing Warsaw Pact forces. Having spent months on the border, seeking any sign of an impending invasion by Soviet and Czech forces, and having practiced delaying operations beginning on a line slightly northeast of Amberg-Regensburg-Landshut-Deggendorf, falling back over days and weeks to successive north-south lines of Augsburg-Weissenburg, Ulm-Crailsheim, Heilbronn-Stuttgart, and finally to the Rhine River, this recently published Czech war plan has a very personal impact.
I and my fellow officers naturally wondered if we had a serious chance to achieve our mission in the late 1950s. Judgments were mixed. Most of us realized that we needed many more armored units to deal with the swift offensive the Warsaw Pact forces were obviously preparing. Instead of tanks, we received a reorganization and tactical nuclear weapons. The 11th Airborne was converted to a “pentatomic” division with a flatter command structure and five “battle groups” instead of three regiments with three battalions each. It was to canalize enemy attacking columns and strike them with low-yield nuclear weapons, such as the “Honest John” (a short range rocket system) could deliver.
Whether these tactical nuclear weapons would have been effective is debatable, but had the 11th Airborne Division been a tank division, the odds would have been greatly improved.
Back at the Armored School in 1959-60, I learned that a great deal of a nuclear weapon’s effects, such as blast, heat, and radiation, could be mitigated by armor-protected vehicles–considerably more than the popular image at the time and especially today would have it. Not only could armored forces greatly reduce potential casualties from tactical nuclear strikes; they could also move through contaminated areas rather safely, keeping their troops from suffering radiation exposure at dangerous levels.
While these realities made use of tactical nuclear weapons far more conceivable, even advantageous, other realities, such as tree blow-down, residual radiation, fires, and other collateral damage, promised that they would complicate military operations for the side hat used them. In other words, they were a mixed blessing, but even the undesirable effects – creation of unintended obstructions – might contribute to slowing a Soviet-Warsaw Pact offensive."