The situation in Ukraine keeps bring up many questions that need answers….the problem is that these issues trickle out as needed.
The latest one is the nuclear arms that Russia possesses and the possibility of their use if things go South in Ukraine.
Is it truly a possibility or just hype?
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Wednesday that were World War III to begin, it would involve nuclear weapons, reports Reuters. A few days earlier, Vladimir Putin announced he was putting the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, suggesting he was transitioning the country’s nukes to a higher level of readiness. So what are the chances we’d get to the point where Russia actually dips into its nuclear stockpile? It’s a question that’s been asked and debated in recent weeks. Some coverage:
- The stockpile itself: The BBC looks at what Russia has: The Federation of American Scientists estimates just shy of 6,000 nuclear warheads, though roughly 1,500 have been retired and earmarked for disposal. The remaining 4,500 aren’t all ready for action, though. It’s thought about 1,500 are “deployed”—i.e., on a sub at sea or at missile and bomber bases. Its stockpile is the biggest among the nine nuclear countries on the planet.
- Parsing Putin’s words: At the Guardian, Kristin Ven Bruusgaard observes that despite what Putin said Sunday, Russia’s nuclear arsenal “remains on a certain level of readiness even during peacetime,” and the US hasn’t detected any signs that warheads are being moved. So if little has changed, why did Putin signal a move was being made? “To influence the Western calculus by repeating that a confrontation with Russia would entail a significant nuclear risk,” en Bruusgaard writes. “To Moscow, the situation is now grave enough to gesture at its nuclear options.”
- One scenario: At Slate, Fred Kaplan sees one scenario in which Putin might actually go nuclear: if the US or NATO gets personally involved, say by sending troops or dropping bombs. “If Putin thought he couldn’t win that war with conventional arms alone (he’s having a hard enough time against just the Ukrainian army), he might very well escalate to nuclear war. That’s what nuclear weapons are for—not just to deter a nuclear attack by an adversary but also to deter (and, if necessary, tip the course of) a large-scale conventional war.”
- The NATO angle: At Foreign Policy, Anchal Vohra writes that Russia’s nuclear capabilities are exactly why the US and its European allies have ruled out sending troops. She points out that, “desperate to save his people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed, in vain, for immediate entry to NATO, which would oblige the alliance to come to Ukraine’s defense. ‘I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe if Ukraine will be in NATO. I’ve asked them directly. All are afraid and did not respond,'” Zelensky said.
- Nothing imminent: In comments to NPR, Olga Oliker of the International Crisis Group puts it like so: “I think it’s very unlikely that Moscow is just going to lob a nuclear weapon at something. Obviously it’s been a week when a lot of people’s assumptions have been challenged, but I’ll cling to this one for a while.”
More information for those that truly care whether nukes are on the table.
Is ‘Vlad the Invader’ really moronic enough to use a nuke?
I am old enough that I remember the scenes from the first nuke that hit Japan…..maybe the world and Russia needs to be reminded just how harsh the consequences are for the use of such weapons.
Just a thought!
Update: After I wrote this post news came out of an Russian attack on a nuke plant…..
Russian troops are shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine. “We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.” The plant accounts for about one-fourth of Ukraine’s power generation, the AP reports. Tuz told Ukrainian television early Friday that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of its six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
Ukraine’s foreign minister pleaded with the Russians to halt their attack, per the Guardian. About 2:30am, Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!” Ukrainian firefighters cannot get near the blaze because they are under fire, Tuz said. Just the day before, the UN atomic watchdog agency expressed grave concern that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.
A live-streamed security camera linked from the homepage of the plant showed what appeared to be armored vehicles rolling into the parking lot and shining spotlights on the building where the camera was mounted. There are then what appear to be bright muzzle flashes from vehicles and nearly simultaneous explosions in surrounding buildings. Smoke then rises and drifts across the frame. The mayor of Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts. Video showed flames and black smoke rising above the city of more than 50,000, with people streaming past wrecked cars.
This could be devastating to Ukraine….
The fire is now under control……
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