Putin’s Threatening Gestures – What Nuclear Escalation Would Mean for Ukraine?

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What had been unimaginable for three decades suddenly became a real danger in the eyes of Europeans thanks to Vladimir Putin’s war rhetoric: the Russian president recently repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons in his stalled campaign of conquest against Ukraine. All available resources will be used – including tactical nuclear weapons if necessary. But what are the consequences of a nuclear attack on Ukraine for Europe? A thinking game.

Experts do not rule out that Russia could use its nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. According to Putin, Russia will “use all available weapon systems” to defend the four annexed regions of Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk. According to the Kremlin spokesperson, the area is in place As of now, Dmitri Peskov falls under Russia’s nuclear umbrella.

Kremlin spreads ‘dirty bomb’ rumors
In addition, Russia is currently spreading rumors that Ukraine plans to detonate a radioactive bomb to discredit Moscow. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has conveyed to his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu “his concerns about possible provocations against Ukraine by means of a ‘dirty bomb’,” Russia’s defense ministry said.

The rumors he himself had spread prompted Putin to have his “strategic deterrence forces” conduct exercises – according to the official report, in order to respond to a threat of nuclear attack.

Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads
There is no doubt that Putin would be technically capable of a nuclear attack. According to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads. Together with the US (5428), Russia will possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal by 2022, according to the SIPRI yearbook.

The Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists estimates that by early 2022, Russia’s inventory included about 4,477 warheads intended for use on long-range strategic missiles and shorter-range tactical nuclear weapons. In addition, there are approximately 1,500 decommissioned but still largely intact nuclear warheads.

How Tactical Nuclear Weapons Are Used?
Tactical nuclear weapons can be used to attack opposing forces in the same way as conventional weapons: they are used to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield. Strategic nuclear weapons, on the other hand, are intended for the complete destruction of entire regions: the aim here is not the destruction of a military force, but maximum nuclear terror intended to force the enemy to surrender.

Tactical nuclear weapons can be quickly transported by truck and fired on the spot, as the head of the Army’s NBC Defense Center Colonel Jürgen Schlechter recently explained. However, the term “tactical” can be misunderstood. Even tactical nuclear weapons can cause “the most severe destruction and release significant radioactivity,” Schlechter says. The extent of damage depends on the explosive power and the type of detonation.

According to Schlechter, the smallest tactical nuclear weapons have an explosive power of about 0.3 kilotons (kT) TNT. But there are also tactical nuclear weapons with a yield of 200 kilotons. As a rule, however, the weapons have an explosive power of 1 to 100 kilotons.

Using the Nukemap website, it is possible to illustrate the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. The atomic bomb simulator developed by the scientist Alex Wellerstein also determines the number of fatalities and calculates the size of the fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. The website sees itself as a memorial to the incredible devastation humanity is capable of.

A nuclear attack in Ukraine would have the following consequences:

This Is How The West Would Respond To Nuclear Weapons
Should the Moscow government use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, major western industrialized countries would suffer serious consequences.
“We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and recall that indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians are a war crime,” G7 leaders said at an online meeting. There is no doubt that Europe and its allies must respond to the use of nuclear weapons, an EU spokeswoman said.

The consequences of a nuclear escalation in Ukraine are also the subject of intense debate in the US, which has contributed significantly to the bitter Ukrainian resistance to Putin’s invasion forces by providing weapons and aid money. Former four-star general and former CIA director David Petraeus said in an interview with US broadcaster ABC that the US would respond with maximum severity to Russia’s use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

It would take out “all of Russia’s conventional forces that we can see and identify.” This refers to Russian troops in Ukraine, including Crimea. In addition, all Russian ships in the Black Sea would be destroyed. He stressed that this was purely hypothetical and that he had not consulted Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. However, Petraeus noted that Sullivan had publicly expressed what the US response would be if Russia decided to “walk this dark path”.

Source: Krone

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