How likely is Russia to conduct a nuclear attack?

President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on high alert during the first weekend of the war with Ukraine, arousing global fears about what might happen next.

The Russian president denounced “unfriendly actions in the economic sphere” referring to punitive economic sanctions imposed on the country by its Western allies and reached out, accusing NATO leaders of “aggressive remarks”.

Kremlin spokeswoman Dmitry Peskov rightfully accused British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s comments of escalating tensions. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in a series of interviews Sunday morning, denied that her words “guarantee that kind of escalation”.

Three weeks later, the Russian invasion continues at a much slower pace than Putin had anticipated, owing to the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people who had fought valiantly as their cities fell from Kyiv to Kharkiv to Mariupol. mercilessly and mercilessly bombarded.

The Russian dictator himself now appears ready to do whatever it takes to cut the increasingly belligerent and isolated figure and secure the victory he craves.

But at Putin’s orders, what could happen now?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What did Vladimir Putin say about nuclear weapons?

At the meeting on Sunday, February 27, Russian television footage showed Putin meeting with the defense minister and chief of staff to instruct the deployment of nuclear weapons into a “special combat duty regime”.

Patricia Lewis, director of international security programs at think tank Chatham House, told the PA news agency. Do not fire nuclear weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a public address at the Kremlin in Moscow.

(Alexei Nicholsky/AP)

“Therefore, there is the phrase ‘special combat duty mode’ because in order to be able to fire a nuclear weapon, Putin must change his position from peacetime to combat. It can be said that it is ready for battle, but it is difficult because the language and meaning are different.”

“What he appears to have done is to create a legal platform where he can start if he wants to,” she added.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said the meaning was “not entirely clear” because the word had never been used before.

“I’ve never seen any report of a change in the Russian nuclear force posture,” he told the PA. “Obviously I don’t have access to confidential information, but I’ve never seen such a report.

“So it’s not clear how that changes. It may have to do with a specific empowerment mechanism between the president and the nuclear force, or it may not at all. What is clear is that this is made for what we need to hear. “It’s to remind us that Russia is a nuclear power,” he said.

How likely is a nuclear attack?

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace tried to pour cold water on fears of nuclear war, but he understands the concerns, but said the expression was “a war of investigation”.

In a media interview, he told Sky News he would “not guess” about what Putin will do next.

later he said BBCbreakfast: “We do not see or perceive anything he describes in terms or status of the change in nuclear posture he currently has.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


“This is mainly about putting Putin on the table to remind people that he has a deterrent.

“We will not do anything to escalate the problem in that area, nor will we do anything to encourage miscalculation, and we take it very, very seriously.

“But right now, this is a fight of investigation by President Putin and we need to manage it properly.”

Meanwhile, foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendart said Russia sees nuclear weapons on the battlefield simply as a “big bang” and can issue military orders to use them.

Some experts said it was unclear whether Putin would launch a nuclear attack, while others dismissed the possibility that mutual destruction would be too great.

“Now he’s moved into a combat situation,” Lewis said. [launch a nuclear attack]. But will he? we don’t know this is the problem

“Of course he wants to surprise us. And I think Russia has long known and believes that Russia has long known that the West fears Russia’s nuclear weapons far more than Russia fears the West’s nuclear weapons.”

“According to Western doctrine, nuclear retaliation against conventional force is possible, but it is generally believed to be a last resort,” she said.

Relative military power between Ukraine and Russia

(Statista/The Independent)

“I have been with Putin for the past 10 years. [North Korean leader] with Kim Jong-un [former US president] Donald Trump is the one who could have just launched a nuclear weapon. So he always had unpredictable situations … I don’t want to exaggerate, I don’t want to downplay.”

On the other hand, Professor Chalmers said, “It’s unlikely,” he said. Pressure on other nuclear powers to use them in response would be huge… Russians understand it, and so does the West. So it is a paradox.”

What could happen with a nuclear attack?

If Russia launches an attack on a NATO country, experts say there could be retaliatory attacks from other NATO countries and could spark clashes, Professor Chalmers said.

The number of casualties depends on the area attacked. Nuclear weapons have the ability to kill hundreds of thousands of people, depending on the population density of the area being targeted.

If certain facilities are targeted instead, others may be injured as a result of radiation poisoning.

What nuclear weapons does Russia have?

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which has published reports of the world’s nuclear weapons since 1987, compiled by leading experts from the Federation of American Scientists, updated its record on Russia’s nuclear weapons last week.

Of these, about 1,588 are strategic warheads that can be deployed at bases for ballistic missiles and heavy bombers, and an additional 977 strategic warheads are stockpiled along with 1912 non-strategic warheads.

What about the rest of the world?

According to the latest figures, the United Kingdom has about 225 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, the United States has 5,428, France 290, Pakistan 165, China 350, India 160, Israel has 90 and the North has 90. Korea 20.

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