RUSSIA has placed a “round-the-clock” nuclear alert on a newly opened facility, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the defence ministry.
By James Lee
10:28, Mon, Jul 4, 2022 | UPDATED: 11:48, Mon, Jul 4, 2022
Lukashenko says Russia ‘must be ready’ to use nuclear arsenal
The news comes as tension mounts over the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine as several key cities fall into Russian control in the east of the country. As global condemnation pours in over the invasion, Russian state media has hit back with continual warnings of nuclear strikes against targets in the West, including London and New York.
Releasing the news, Interfax said: “From July 1, 2022, in order to strengthen the defence capability of our state, shifts of the Main Centre for Geophysical Monitoring began to carry out round-the-clock duty.”
The centre, which opened on June 1, is tasked with identifying the sources of man-made “geophysical disturbances” as well as nuclear explosions, Interfax reported.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, relations between Moscow and the West have become increasingly tense, with politicians in both Russia and the United States speaking publicly about the risk of nuclear war.
President Vladimir Putin said in February that he was putting the country’s nuclear forces on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow.
Russia’s official military deployment principles allow for the use of nuclear weapons if they – or other types of weapons of mass destruction – are used against it, or if the state faces an existential threat.
In spite of Russia’s announcement to monitor any man-made ‘noise’ that could be created by either launching or testing nuclear weapons, it is Moscow that has continually used rhetoric threatening the use.
Speaking of whether NATO allies should be prepared for a Russian strike, former British Ambassador to Washington Sir Kim Darroch said: “There’s an analysis that I think has been done by somebody recently, a think tank, that they’re looking at about 35 mentions or perhaps it’s a little bit more now.”
It is assumed that if Russia were to use nuclear weapons, it would do so in an attack on Ukraine, and not on a NATO state which would trigger Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, hence launching a full-scale response.
In such an attack, short-range, lower yield ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons – of which there are thought to be more than 1,000 in reserve – would be the most likely used.
It is thought that any such weapons should they be launched, will be taken from storage and attached to missiles, bombers or as shell artillery.
The Russian President recently supervised an exercise focusing on the readiness of military command and control, combat crews, warships, and strategic missile carriers, as well as the reliability of strategic nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, Putin has announced the so-called “Satan II”, a missile capable of carrying over 10 warheads would be ready to launch by the end of the year.
The hypersonic missile is capable of reaching key cities in Europe in just over three minutes, and just under fifteen if fired at New York from Russia.
Aside from Russia, North Korea has also been stepping up its nuclear programme in recent times.
The pariah state has essentially completed restoration work at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility and appears to be expanding construction activity into a second tunnel, according to a new analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
After conducting a record number of missile tests this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the United States, South Korea and Japan believe Pyongyang is gearing up for its first nuclear test in five years.
Punggye-ri was dismantled in 2018 – with North Korea sharing eye-catching pictures of the tunnel entrances being blown up – as the country embarked on a brief period of high-level diplomacy over denuclearisation.
The CSIS analysis said the images showed new construction materials near the entrance to the portal at Tunnel No 4, which was destroyed in 2018.
A report by Loughborough University has suggested Ukraine could begin building a nuclear arsenal or start buying nuclear weapons to increase its country’s defences against Putin.
Dr Paul Maddrell, a lecturer in international history and international relations, at Loughborough, said that these brutal assaults, being carried out to help Putin achieve his three main aims – to dismember Ukraine, weaken its military and reverse the expansion of NATO – could force President Zelenskyy to consider building a nuclear deterrent.
He said: “If I were the President of Ukraine, I’d strongly be considering developing nuclear weapons.
“Ukraine had nuclear weapons in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed.
“There were nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory, which became Ukraine’s and Ukraine agreed to give them up to denuclearise Europe and make it a safer place.
“Well, if it had kept those nuclear weapons, Putin would not have invaded because he would have faced a nuclear attack on his country.
He ended “Zelensky, if he’s prevented from joining NATO, may well think that the only way forward is to develop nuclear weapons – as he may do.”