Russia: Expert discusses likelihood of nuclear attack
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Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his decision owing to perceived “aggressive statements” from the West. Moscow has the largest global arsenal of nuclear weapons, and it’s the threat of these being used that has played a large role in preventing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from wading into the war in Ukraine.
Estimates from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists showed Moscow owns around 4,447 warheads – the devices that trigger a nuclear explosion – of which 1,588 are deployed on ballistic missiles and heavy bomber bases.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin keeps a further 977 strategic warheads and 1,912 nonstrategic warheads in reserve.
As alarming as Putin’s decision to increase the threat level of Russia’s nuclear weapons was, it doesn’t mean that he’s intending to use them.
However, if a nuclear weapon were to be used, what would happen next?
A nuclear warhead would cause untold devastation for wherever it was aimed at.
Not only would it annihilate anybody located within the vicinity, it would also make the target area inhabitable for centuries to come.
Contaminated populations would have to deal with subsequent radioactive fallout, which can cause tumours and birth defects.
The explosion from a nuclear blast would create visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light waves.
These would combine to produce a kind of large, very hot fireball that’s capable of burning everything, while also causing third-degree burns within an even larger radius than the blast damage.
It’s also extremely likely that a country hit by a nuclear weapon would retaliate with one of its own – potentially creating a conflict with a limitless end.
The only previous time that nuclear weapons have been used in combat was when the US twice bombed Japan towards the end of World War Two.
What’s Vladimir Putin said about nuclear weapons?
Putin said, when he launched his invasion into Ukraine, that anyone who tries to obstruct Russia’s military action will have to reckon with “consequences never experienced in history”.
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In December 2018, Putin cautioned that the threat of nuclear war should not be underestimated, while also elaborating on some of the potential impacts of a nuclear war.
His remarks came after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the US and Russia had originally agreed to in 1987.
He said: “The danger of the situation is being downplayed. It now seems to be impossible, something without crucial importance, but at the same time if something like this would happen this would lead to the collapse of the entire civilisation and maybe our planet.
“Unfortunately, we have this trend to underestimate the current situation. There are dangers, there are risks in our day-to-day lives.
“What are those risks? First and foremost, the collapse of the international system of arms control, of moving away from an arms race.”
Earlier that same year, the Russian President had declared that a new range of nuclear weapons, which had been developed by Russia, were “invincible”.
He has also previously said the West needs “to take account of a new reality and understand that everything I have said today is not a bluff”.
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