Senior Russian security official issues a threat of Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Dmitry Medvedev is seen speaking in front of a microphone
Security Council Deputy Chairman Medvedev warned Moscow may opt out of the last nuclear arms treaty with the US [Yekaterina Shtukina/Sputnik via AP]

Senior Russian security official issues stark threats to the West

Former President Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow may respond to sanctions by cutting diplomatic ties with the West and freezing personal assets.

Published On 26 Feb 202226 Feb 2022

Moscow may respond to Western sanctions by opting out of the last nuclear arms deal with the United States, cutting diplomatic ties with Western nations, and freezing their assets, a senior Russian official warned.

The threat on Saturday by former President Dmitry Medvedev came as Russia’s ties with the West sank to new lows over its invasion of Ukraine.

Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, also warned Moscow could restore the death penalty after Russia was removed from Europe’s top rights group – a chilling statement that shocked human rights activists in a country that has not had capital punishment for a quarter-century.

The sanctions placed new tight restrictions on Russian financial operations, imposed a draconian ban on technology exports to Russia and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister, a harsh response that dwarfed earlier Western restrictions.

Washington and its allies say even tougher sanctions are possible, including kicking Russia out of SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.

In sarcastic comments posted on a Russian social platform, Medvedev dismissed the sanctions as a show of Western “political impotence” that will only consolidate the Russian leadership and foment anti-Western feelings.

“We are being driven out of everywhere, punished and threatened, but we don’t feel scared,” he said, mocking the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies as an attempt to vindicate their past “shameful decisions, like a cowardly retreat from Afghanistan”.

Medvedev was placeholder president in 2008-2012 when Putin had to shift into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits. He then let Putin reclaim the presidency and served as his prime minister for eight years.

Day 3 of the Russian invasion in Ukraine

During his tenure as president, Medvedev was widely seen as more liberal compared with Putin, but on Saturday, he made a series of threats that even the most hawkish Kremlin figures have not mentioned to date.

Medvedev noted the sanctions offer the Kremlin a pretext to completely review its ties with the West, suggesting Russia could opt out of the New START nuclear arms control treaty that limits the US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

The treaty, which Medvedev signed in 2010 with then-US President Barack Obama, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

The pact – the last remaining US-Russian nuclear arms control agreement – had been set to expire in February 2021 but Moscow and Washington extended it for another five years.

If Russia opts out of the agreement now, it will remove any checks on US and Russian nuclear forces and raise new threats to global security.

‘Binoculars and gunsights’

Medvedev also raised the prospect of cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries, saying “there is no particular need in maintaining diplomatic relations” and adding, “We may look at each other in binoculars and gunsights.”

Referring to Western threats to freeze the assets of Russian companies and individuals, Medvedev warned said Moscow would not hesitate to do the same.

“We would need to respond in kind by freezing the assets of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia … and possibly by nationalising the assets of those who come from unfriendly jurisdictions,” he said. “The most interesting things are only starting now.”

‘Return to the Middle Ages’

Commenting on the Council of Europe’s move on Friday to suspend Russia’s representation in Europe’s leading human rights organisation, Medvedev described it as one of the “useless nursing homes” that Russia mistakenly joined.

He added it offers “a good opportunity” to restore the death penalty for grave crimes, noting the US and China have never stopped using it.

Moscow has maintained a moratorium on capital punishment since August 1996 as part of the obligations it accepted when it joined the Council of Europe.

Medvedev’s statement terrified Russia’s human rights activists who warned the prospect of reinstatement of the death penalty is particularly ominous in Russia because of its flawed judicial system.

Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Kremlin human rights council, deplored it as a “catastrophe” and a “return to the Middle Ages”.

“Given the very low quality of criminal investigation, any person could be convicted and executed,” she said. “To say that I’m horrified is to say nothing.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a series of anti-war protests in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities across Russia, which were quickly dispersed by police who arrested hundreds.

As part of efforts to stifle dissenting voices, Russia’s state communications watchdog issued notices to top independent media outlets, warning they will face closure if they continue to distribute information about the fighting that deviates from the official line.

On Friday, the watchdog also announced “partial restrictions” on access to Facebook in response to the platform limiting the accounts of several Kremlin-backed media. It did not say what exactly its restrictions implied.

The war in Ukraine portends the End: Revelation

Photo of soldiers in Kyiv outside a building damaged by a missile
Ukrainian police officers outside a building in Kyiv damaged by a Russian missile, on February 25, 2022.

The war in Ukraine could portend the end of the “long peace”

The decline of major conflict helped support decades of prosperity, but that future is now in doubt.

By Bryan Walsh@bryanrwalsh  Feb 26, 2022, 6:00am EST

As I walk my 4-year-old son to day care each morning, we often pass by one of Brooklyn’s many old apartment buildings. Just visible near the stairs leading to the basement is a sign, faded with age, of three yellow triangles against a black circle, poised above two words: “fallout shelter.”

Such signs used to adorn tens of thousands of buildings around the US, a legacy of President John F. Kennedy’s effort during the height of the Cold War to identify structures that could plausibly provide some protection from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear strike.

These spaces were eventually meant to be equipped with essentials like water and medical kits designed to last two weeks, by which time it was hoped that the worst of the radioactivity would have dispersed and survivors could emerge to whatever was left.

But most of the equipment was never moved into place, and by the early 1970s funding for the program had dried up, leaving little more than the signs as a reminder of a period when the threat of nuclear holocaust was real enough to prepare for — however futile those preparations would have been.

The end of the long peace

Those abandoned fallout shelters were on my mind on Wednesday night as I watched Russia overturn decades of seemingly settled international policy with an invasion of Ukraine that was as premeditated as it was shocking. What sets this action apart from the countless conflicts, large and small, that have unfolded over recent decades, is the specter of nuclear weapons.

That was implicit in Russia’s decision to exercise its strategic nuclear forces in the leadup to the invasion, in Putin’s absurd casus belli claim that Ukraine was going to develop its own nuclear weapons, in his threat that countries that interfered with Russian actions would face “consequences you have never seen.” As Roger Cohen pointed out in the New York Times, Putin’s speech “seemed to come closer to threatening nuclear war than any statement from a major world leader in recent decades.”

The irony is that one of the reasons Ukraine was vulnerable to a Russian invasion is that it does not possess nuclear weapons. It agreed in 1994 to give up Soviet nukes that had been left in its territory after the USSR’s breakup in exchange for an agreement that the US, the UK, and Russia would guarantee its security. And one of the reasons that Putin could invade knowing that international opposition would be largely limited to diplomatic and financial tools was that Russia still possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

It has also retained strategic ambiguity about just when and why it would use those weapons, including the possibility it would threaten a nuclear strike if it were on the losing side of a conventional conflict with NATO.

As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp writes, what we’re seeing is an illustration of the “stability-instability paradox” of nuclear weapons. As the chance of nuclear conflict declines, the theory holds, the risk of conventional war increases, and as the likelihood of nuclear conflict increases, the risk of conventional war declines. That in turn helps explain another paradox: why the decades following the introduction of nuclear weapons — weapons that, in their most maximalist effect, could conceivably bring an end to human civilization — also saw a historic fall in the number of war-related deaths around the world.

Chart of battle deaths 1945-2016

These decades go by another name: “the long peace.” The name can be a bit misleading — for much of the world, these years have been anything but peaceful, with the number of discrete conflicts beginning to rise in the 1960s and staying high ever since.

These ranged from large conflicts like America’s decade in Vietnam and the 1980s Iran-Iraq war to countless small skirmishes, often conflicts within countries, that barely penetrated the international media. But compared to the blood-stained decades that marked the first half of the 20th century — which saw more than 100 million deaths in World Wars I and II combined — let alone humanity’s tremendously violent past, these years have indeed been a holiday from history.

And if the invasion of Ukraine marks a decisive end to that holiday, as some experts have suggested, we risk losing far more than peace.

The wages of peace

When Future Perfect was launched in 2018, Vox’s Dylan Matthews laid out a founding question: “What topics would we write about if our only instruction was to write about the most important stuff in the world?”

The years that followed provided some of the answers: the battle against global poverty and the common diseases that still kill too many of the world’s poorest; the growth of effective altruism and the rigorous movement to do the most good per dollar; the expansion of moral concern from tribe and nation to all of humanity and even non-human species; and yes, occasionally, the existential threat of superintelligent AI.

What these topics have in common is that they all flourish best in peace.

The last half-century or more hasn’t just seen a historic reduction in the casualties of war. It’s also witnessed an unprecedented expansion in human prosperity, as measured in health, wealth, and education. It’s an expansion that is far from perfect and far from complete, but one that has opened the door, even just a crack, to a future that truly could be perfect.

That progress, I would argue, depends on peace. Unchecked war is the great destroyer of human value. One estimate from 2019 put the economic impact of violence and conflict at $14.4 trillion that year, equivalent to more than 10 percent of gross global GDP.

But dollar figures are only one way of counting the destruction. A world where borders can once again be remade with force, where countries and their citizens no longer feel secure from better-armed neighbors, is one where the broader goals Future Perfect covers (and values) will be harder to achieve, where the circle of moral concern could shrink rather than grow. It is a return to barbarity.

Fighting back

Understanding the value of peace doesn’t mean the world should do nothing as Russian troops and arms pour into Ukraine — far from it. A Russian takeover of Ukraine at the point of a gun doesn’t merely destabilize its European neighbors; it potentially opens the door for other increasingly authoritarian countries to take what they can by force. Today Kyiv, tomorrow Taipei.

Even if the chain of events doesn’t end in World War III — and as Dylan Matthews wrote recently, we have far too little data about great-power conflicts to know when major wars will begin or how to stop them — the political and even psychological foundations of the long peace would begin to erode.

Just what can be done to stop this is far from clear. The effective altruism community has recently become more interested in the goal of preventing great-power conflict, but promoting direct cash giving or distributing malaria bed nets looks a lot more tractable than preventing a major war, thanks in part to the stability-instability paradox. How hard can we push back before we risk solving that paradox in the worst possible way, a solution that ends in those dusty fallout shelters?

At Future Perfect, we pride ourselves on covering the issues that will truly matter for humanity’s long term, not just the news of the day. But this is a rare moment when the news of the day may well prove decisive for just what shape that long term will take.

This is Why the Remaining 17 Horns Will Nuke Up: Daniel 7&8

FILE - In this Friday, July 26, 1996 file photo, an engineer examines the engine of the SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile at the Yuzhmash aerospace enterprise (Southern Engineering plant) in Dnipro, Ukraine. The New York Times reported Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 that Pyongyang's quick progress in making ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines, probably from the Ukrainian plant in Dnipro. Ukrainian officials denied the claim. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

Lesson From Ukraine: Breaking Promises to Small Countries Means They’ll Never Give Up Nukes

In the 1990s, world powers promised Ukraine that if it disarmed, they would not violate its security. That promise was broken.

An engineer examines the engine of an SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile in Dnipro, Ukraine, on July 26, 1996.

Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Ukraine was once home to thousands of nuclear weapons. The weapons were stationed there by the Soviet Union and inherited by Ukraine when, at the end of the Cold War, it became independent. It was the third-largest nuclear arsenal on Earth. During an optimistic moment in the early 1990s, Ukraine’s leadership made what today seems like a fateful decision: to disarm the country and abandon those terrifying weapons, in exchange for signed guarantees from the international community ensuring its future security.

The decision to disarm was portrayed at the time as a means of ensuring Ukraine’s security through agreements with the international community — which was exerting pressure over the issue — rather than through the more economically and politically costly path of maintaining its own nuclear program. Today, with Ukraine being swarmed by heavily armed invading Russian troops bristling with weaponry and little prospect of defense from its erstwhile friends abroad, that decision is looking like a bad one.

Nations that sacrifice their nuclear deterrents in exchange for promises of goodwill are often signing their own death warrants.

The tragedy now unfolding in Ukraine is underlining a broader principle clearly seen around the world: Nations that sacrifice their nuclear deterrents in exchange for promises of international goodwill are often signing their own death warrants. In a world bristling with weapons with the potential to end human civilization, nonproliferation itself is a morally worthwhile and even necessary goal. But the experience of countries that actually have disarmed is likely to lead more of them to conclude otherwise in future.

The betrayal of Ukrainians in particular cannot be understated. In 1994, the Ukrainian government signed a memorandum that brought its country into the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while formally relinquishing its status as a nuclear state. The text of that agreement stated that in exchange for the step, the “Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s territorial integrity has not been much respected since. After the 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea by Russia — which brought no serious international response — Ukrainian leaders had already begun to think twice about the virtues of the agreement they had signed just two decades earlier. Today they sound positively bitter about it.

We gave away the capability for nothing,” Andriy Zahorodniuk, a former defense minister of Ukraine, said this month about his nation’s former nuclear weapons. “Now, every time somebody offers us to sign a strip of paper, the response is, ‘Thank you very much. We already had one of those some time ago.’”

Ukrainians are not the only ones who have come to regret signing away their nuclear weapons. In 2003, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi made a surprise announcement that his nation would abandon its nuclear program and chemical weapons in exchange for normalization with the West.

“Libya stands as one of the few countries to have voluntarily abandoned its WMD programs,” wrote Judith Miller a few years later in an article about the decision headlined “Gadhafi’s Leap of Faith.” Miller, then just out of the New York Times, added that the White House had opted “to make Libya a true model for the region” by helping encourage other states with nuclear programs to follow Gaddafi’s example.

Libya kept moving forward. It signed on to an additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency allowing for extensive international monitoring of nuclear reserves. In return, sanctions against the country were lifted and relations between Washington and Tripoli, severed during the Cold War, were reestablished. Gaddafi and his family spent a few years building ties with Western elites, and all seemed to be going well for the Libyan dictator.

Then came the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Gaddafi found that the same world leaders who had ostensibly become his economic partners and diplomatic allies were suddenly providing decisive military aid to his opposition — even cheering on his own death.

Promises, betrayals, aggression: It’s a pattern that extends even to countries that have merely considered foreclosing their avenues to a nuclear deterrent.

Abandoned Weapons In Libya Threatens Region's Security

Missile silos abandoned by the Gaddafi regime are left in the desert at a military base in Lona, Libya, on Sept. 29, 2011.

Photo: John Cantlie/Getty Images

Take Iran: In 2015, the Islamic Republic signed a comprehensive nuclear deal with the U.S. that limited its possible breakout capacity toward building a nuclear weapon and provided extensive monitoring of its civilian nuclear program. Not long afterward, the agreement was violated by the Trump administration, despite the country’s own continued compliance. Since 2016, when Trump left the deal, Iran has been hit with crushing international sanctions that have devastated its economy and been subjected to a campaign of assassination targeting its senior military leadership.

To date, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a full-scale invasion by a foreign power, regardless of its own actions.

The nuclear deal was characterized at the time as the first step toward a broader set of talks over regional disputes between Iranian and U.S. leaders, who had been alienated since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Instead, the deal marked another bitter chapter in the long-troubled relationship between the two countries.

To date, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a full-scale invasion by a foreign power, regardless of its own actions. North Korea has managed to keep its hermetic political system intact for decades despite tensions with the international community. North Korean officials have even cited the example of Libya in discussing their own weapons. In 2011, as bombs rained down on Gaddafi’s government, a North Korean foreign ministry official said, “The Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson.” That official went on to refer to giving up weapons in signed agreements as “an invasion tactic to disarm the country.”

Perhaps the starkest contrast to the treatment of Ukraine, Libya, and Iran, however, is Pakistan, which developed nuclear weapons decades ago in defiance of the United States. Despite being criticized at the time for contributing to nuclear proliferation and facing periodic sanctions, Pakistan has managed to insulate itself from attack or even serious ostracism by the U.S. despite several flagrant provocations in the decades since. Today Pakistan even remains a security partner of the U.S., having received billions of dollars of military aid over the past several decades.

Given the mortal hazards that nuclear weapons pose to life on Earth, nonproliferation remains a worthwhile collective goal. Humanity will not benefit from a renewal of the nuclear arms race, and the ideals behind a U.S.-backed rules-based liberal order are morally attractive. A world in which they were truly applied would probably be a fairer and more peaceful one than what has existed in the past, yet we must also recognize that the liberal order can and will fail. That lesson is especially true for small nations outmatched by great powers.

Given the tragedy we are witnessing in Ukraine today — where, despite its past assurances, the international community has remained a passive observer — leaders of small countries must be forgiven for thinking twice before sacrificing their deterrent, regardless of what the leaders of great powers already armed with nuclear weaponry may say.

The Russian Horn Threatens Nuclear War: Daniel 8

(Newser) – Vladimir Putin on Sunday again raised the prospect of invoking the nuclear option—and not as a metaphor. In a televised address, the Russian leader announced he was putting the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, reports the AP, which sees the move as a “dramatic escalation of East-West tensions.” In his speech, Putin said “aggressive statements” by NATO powers amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced him to put the nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” (The development comes as Ukraine and Russia agreed to their first talks since the conflict began.)

  • Second time: As Axios notes, this is the second time Putin has rattled his nuclear sword amid the conflict. When he first sent troops over the border, he reminded the world that Russia was a leading nuclear power and warned that any nation interfering would face “consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
  • Elaborating: “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said Sunday.
  • Not to worry? Last week, Vox spoke to three analysts who said the chances Putin would go nuclear were slim to none. “I think there is virtually no chance nuclear weapons are going to be used in the Ukraine situation,” says Matthew Bunn of Harvard Kennedy School. That’s the gist of the piece, though Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, adds, “I’m more worried than I was a week ago.”
  • Then again: Sen. Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, didn’t exactly set people’s mind at ease about the Russian leader’s state of mind with this tweet on Friday night: “I wish I could share more, but for now I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with #Putin,” he wrote. “He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different & significant … It would be a mistake to assume this Putin would react the same way he would have 5 years ago.”

When will there be a nuclear war? Revelation 16

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 24, 2022: Russia's President Vladimir Putin is seen during a meeting with members of Russian business community in the Moscow Kremlin. Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images)

Will there be a nuclear war? Which countries have weapons and how likely Russia is to use nukes in Ukraine

Russia has more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world, but has signed a treaty not to use them

By Ryan Dinsdale

February 25, 2022 2:26 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning to the West following his invasion of Ukraine by stating that anyone who interfered “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.

The threat of nuclear war has been considered by world leaders and civilians alike, despite Russia, the United States and UK all having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and therefore, on paper, agreeing to nuclear peace.

So how real is the risk that nuclear arms could be used? And what systems are in place to minimise that risk?

What is the NPT?

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, shortened to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is an international agreement signed by 191 countries intended to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

There are three main parts to the agreement: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear energy.

Only four countries with nuclear capabilities have not signed the NPT, including Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea.

Who has nuclear weapons?

Nuclear weapons are known to be possessed by nine countries, but only five of these have signed the NPT.

Russia has the most, at 6,257, of which 1,458 are active (already deployed), 3,039 are available (can be deployed if needed) and 1,760 are retired (out of use and awaiting dismantlement).

The United States follows with 5,550 nuclear weapons in total, of which 1,389 are active, 2,361 are available, and 1,800 are retired.

Of the remaining NPT countries, China has 350 active nuclear weapons, France has 290, and the UK has 225.

Pakistan, India, and Israel have never signed the NPT but have 165, 156, and 90 available nuclear weapons respectively.

North Korea originally signed the NPT but became the only country to ever withdraw from it in 2003, and is currently believed to have around 40 to 50 nuclear weapons.

Did Putin threaten to use nuclear weapons?

Putin addressed Russia on Thursday, not declaring war but claiming his goal wsa to “demilitarise and de-Nazify” Ukraine.

He added: “To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All the relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on French television channel TF1 that this message was understood to be a threat of using nuclear weapons.

Has Nato responded?

Le Drian countered with his own mention of nuclear capabilities, however. He added: “I think Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance (Nato) is a nuclear alliance. That is all I will say about this.”

Nato itself does not own any nuclear weapons but some United States-owned missiles are reportedly kept at six airbases across five European countries.

How to think about the Bowls of Wrath: Revelation 16

Russian president Vladimir Putin, wearing a suit and tie, stands at a podium in front of a Russian flag.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference at the Kremlin in February. Putin announced a Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

How to think about the risk of nuclear war, according to 3 experts

The threat of nuclear weapons never went away. But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes it visible again.

Feb 25, 2022, 2:25pm EST

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, he also made a more nebulous threat: “No matter who tries to stand in our way or … create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

Another part of his speech seemed to make his meaning clear. “Today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,” Putin said. As justification for the invasion, Putin also made unfounded claims that Ukraine was on a path to build its own nuclear arsenal. “There’s no evidence of that at all,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

The Russian invasion has relied entirely on conventional weapons — tanks rattling down highways, bombers flying overhead, ships landing in the port city of Odesa — and experts told Vox that in the absence of a shocking escalation, that isn’t likely to change.

Still, Putin’s remarks were a stark reminder that nuclear weapons aren’t just the boogeymen of a bygone age, but remain a key part of the security order that emerged after the end of World War II. By Kristensen’s count, Russia has about 6,000 nuclear weapons and the United States has about 5,500. Either nuclear arsenal is large enough to kill billions of people — but also to serve as a deterrent against attack.

In recent decades, the so-called nuclear order has remained fairly stable. The seven other countries known to have nuclear weapons have much smaller arsenals. Most countries in the world have signed onto the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which limits the development of nuclear weapons. We asked three researchers of nuclear arms control about the risks the world faces now and what we might be able to do about them.

How worried should we be about the threat of nuclear weapons right now?

While Putin’s remarks are certainly cause for concern — especially since they introduced the largest military operation in Europe since the Second World War — the scholars who spoke to Vox said a nuclear strike is still unlikely. “I think there is virtually no chance nuclear weapons are going to be used in the Ukraine situation,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former adviser to President Bill Clinton’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The main reason, Bunn said, is that the United States and its NATO allies have made it clear that they will not send troops to Ukraine. Without the threat of military intervention, Putin has little reason to use his nuclear weapons, especially since Russia has a staggering numbers advantage over the Ukrainian military.

“His objective is not to bring the world to nuclear war,” said Paul Hare, senior lecturer in global studies at Boston University. “His objective is to simply swallow Ukraine — and restore not just the [power of the] Soviet Union, but the Tsarist empire.”

Still, said Kristensen, “I’m more worried than I was a week ago.” He pointed out that NATO increased its readiness levels for “all contingencies” in response to Putin’s speech, and with increased military buildup comes increased uncertainty. “That’s the fog of war, so to speak,” Kristensen said. “Out of that can come twists and turns that take you down a path that you couldn’t predict a week ago.”

What does Russia’s nuclear arsenal look like? How does it compare to others in the world?

Russia’s roughly 6,000 warheads make it the country with the largest nuclear arsenal. Kristensen said most of those warheads are in reserves, with only about 1,600 deployed as land, sea, and air-based weapons, such as missiles in silos or bombs dropped by planes. (When the USSR fell apart at the end of the Cold War, there were nuclear weapons left behind on Ukrainian soil, but Ukraine returnedthem to Russia.)

The countries known to have nuclear weapons are Russia, the US, China, France, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. That includes every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, which have been working to modernize their nuclear weapons over the past few decades, and three members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The total number of weaponshas dropped by about 80 percent since the end of the Cold War, from an estimated 70,300 in 1986 to 12,700 in early 2022.

That’s still a lot of nukes. “There has been much discussion about whether that means Russia has a sort of trigger-happy nuclear posture,” Kristensen said. “It’s hard to pin down. if Russian officials were asked to sit down around a table and entirely consider how many tactical nuclear weapons were needed, purely based on real, strategic rationales, I suspect that number would quickly drop to a lot less [than what it is today].”

Does Putin have a reason to consider using nuclear weapons?

From a strategic standpoint, the experts said, there’s no reason for Russia to use nuclear weapons. But they said Putin himself was the biggest source of uncertainty. “The element of emotion and anger that’s crept into Putin’s statements in particular is striking,” said Hare. “Normally we’ve associated Russia’s diplomatic style with a kind of laconic, almost sarcastic manner.”

It’s worth remembering, Kristensen added, that Putin often makes allusions to Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a show of strength. In 2015, he said in a Russian state TV documentary that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert during the Russian annexation of Crimea a year prior.

This could be a sign that Putin’s nuclear rhetoric is more bark than bite, but Kristensen wasn’t ready to say that for sure. “He lives in a very small bubble, and he’s deeply paranoid,” Kristensen said. “He’s willing to do really not very rational things.”

Is the fear of a nuclear war enough to stop countries from using nuclear weapons?

“The physical fact of a nuclear weapon’s destructive power absolutely creates fear,” said Bunn. Nuclear deterrence — the idea that one country wouldn’t dare attack another for fear of a nuclear strike — was the major security policy of the Cold War period, and experts say it remains very much alive today. As my colleague Zack Beauchamp recently wrote, the threat of nuclear weapons is the reason the US won’t send troops to Ukraine.

But nuclear deterrence clearly didn’t end all wars. The existence of nuclear weapons “didn’t help us in Vietnam, they didn’t help us in Iraq, they didn’t help us in Afghanistan,” Bunn said. “Nuclear weapons aren’t useful for the majority of the security and well-being challenges that the United States faces.” 

Since the Cold War, it’s been widely accepted that nuclear deterrence would help ensure that the borders of Europe would not be challenged. The Ukraine crisis, said Hare, is casting some doubt on that idea. “The credibility of deterrence hasn’t been tested for decades,” Hare said. “The whole international order is sort of being thrown up in the air. Is the Ukraine attack going to be a prelude to an attack on, say, the Baltic states that are even more vulnerable, or is Putin going to be satisfied with Ukraine?” 

The answer, Hare said, will shape how the United States and its NATO allies decide to deploy their forces — conventional and nuclear — around the world. “We’re starting to see large powers begin to sort of entertain the thought of limited tactical nuclear weapons use scenarios, in a way that they didn’t spend very much time thinking about 10 years ago,” said Kristensen. These are the sorts of unlikely scenarios that have been tossed around in war games as contingencies since the Cold War, and could entail strikes on isolated military targets that are far from population centers, for example. 

“The theory is very much like it was during the Cold War,” Kristensen explained. “You just sort of have some smaller nukes that you can pop off here and there, to force an adversary to take an off-ramp during a conflict.” 

Is the world doing a good job keeping nuclear weapons under control?

For the most part, global efforts to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading, like theNon-Proliferation Treaty, have been strikingly successful. But these efforts need constant attention and maintenance. “Globally, the nuclear order is in pretty bad shape,” said Bunn. North Korea continues to build up its nuclear arsenal, India and Pakistan appear to be engaging in an arms race to build up short-range tactical nuclear weapons, and hostility is ratcheting up between the US, Russia, and China.

“People should pay attention,” said Kristensen. “They have to be vigilant about holding their governments accountable, and make sure that the policies that are in place and the way they’re implemented are constructive, that they actually lead to improving the situation rather than making it worse.” A key US-Russia agreement to limit nuclear-armed missiles, known as the New START Treaty, is set to expire in February 2026, and the degraded relations between the United States and Russia will make negotiating a renewal much harder.

“The huge increase in US-Russian hostility will lead to increased risks of conflict and make it more difficult to work with Russia,” Bunn said. “Whether it’s working to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries or improving security for nuclear weapons and materials and facilities, all of that goes better if the United States and Russia are working together. And they’re not going to be doing that for some time to come.”

There is some good news, Bunn said. There are promising signs for the reinstatement of the Iran nuclear deal, which would affirm the principles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. “It’s important to remember that only 5 percent of the countries in the world have nuclear weapons,” Bunn said. “Every other state has pledged to never develop nuclear weapons.”

For decades, Bunn added, about one in every 10 US lightbulbs was powered by uranium from decommissioned Russian warheads, which was sent to American nuclear power plants — a reminder that the world actively worked together to turn a tool of destruction into a force for good. “That’s remarkable,” Bunn said. “It’s never been true before in human history that the most powerful weapon available to our species was widely forsworn.”

Russia Says Babylon the Great Is Lowering Threshold For Use Of Nuclear Weapons

Russia Says US Is Lowering Threshold For Use Of Nuclear Weapons

As the US and Russia are preparing to hold security talks in January, Russian officials continue to criticize Washington’s military posture. On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov accused the US of lowering the threshold for the possible use of nuclear weapons.

“We in Moscow are committed to raising the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. An opposite trend has been seen in the United States over the recent years, with the means for nuclear destruction appearing to be perceived more and more as a battlefield weapon. This is a dangerous trend,” Ryabkov said, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

Ryabkov warned the US attitude towards nuclear weapons risks leading to an incident similar to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, something he said must not happen. Russian leaders have repeatedly warned the US against deploying missiles to Ukraine that could target Moscow and are seeking guarantees that Washington would refrain from such a provocation.

Ryabkov said Russia wants to resolve these issues through negotiations. “Today, as it seems to me, political and diplomatic tools should be used first and foremost to settle this situation,” he said. Ryabkov added that Russia outlined “how to settle” these issues in the security proposals it submitted to the US. 

Like other Russian officials, Ryabkov stressed that the US must take its security proposals seriously. Also on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks on the proposals will begin immediately after Russia’s new year holiday season, which lasts through January 9th.

Bowls of Wrath fears grow as tensions on Ukraine border erupt: Revelation 16

A mobile launcher carrying Yars thermonuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles

WW3 fears grow as tensions on Ukraine border erupt – Russia issues nuclear ultimatum

FEARS of World War 3 erupting between Russia and the US are at an all-time high as tensions between the two nuclear powers erupt over Ukraine.

In an extraordinary uptick in aggression, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow would deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe if NATO failed to rule out using them itself. Missiles of this nature have a top range of 3,100 miles (5,000km) and could hit numerous European capitals if deployed from Russia.

Russian military expert ​​​​Colonel Konstantin Sivkov spoke of various situations around the world where tensions are high and could lead to a nuclear war on a global scale.

Speaking on Russia Today TV, the Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences (RARAN) claimed that America recently gave Germany’s air force permission to equip its planes with American nuclear weapons, and has provided Germany with America’s nuclear battle plans.

Because of this, the US has been pushed to the brink of nuclear war over Ukraine.

According to US intelligence, Russia has stationed some 70,000 troops near the border of Ukraine and has begun planning for a possible invasion as early as next year.

Moscow has denied it is preparing for an invasion and has accused the government in Kyiv of stoking tensions in the region by deploying new weapons.

Colonel Sivkov also warned that if a nuclear conflict erupts, Russia has the capacity to turn a country like Germany into a nuclear wasteland using some of its 160 submarine-launched nuclear missiles.

He said: “The United States gave the German air force permission to equip its planes with nuclear bombs.

“By doing this, it gave the German air force the plans to use nuclear munitions in battle.

READ MORE: The 6 EU countries at risk from Russian invasion as Putin takes aim

The map shows how Russia may invade Ukraine

“Thus, the US has pushed the situation in Ukraine to the brink of nuclear war.

“The US needs to understand that Russia’s nuclear counterstrike would not be limited to German territory, but would also reach the soil of the country that owns these nuclear weapons – the US.

“160 [submarine-launched Russian] missiles with nuclear warheads would turn a country like Germany into a nuclear wasteland. They need to fully understand this.”

The Colonel also spoke about the conflict between Iran and Israel, and how tensions there could escalate into a nuclear war that pulls in different countries of the world.

Biden and Naftali Bennet
Russia has deployed new weapons to the border with Ukraine

He believed that Israel would not use nuclear weapons against Iran, because of fears that this might lead to retaliation by Russia or China.

“An Iranian attack on Israel’s nuclear plants and reactors would make life on the small land of Israel impossible.

“Iran’s [nuclear] installations are in mountainous regions and are well fortified.

“These mountainous areas can only be penetrated with nuclear bombs, and I do not think that Israel would use nuclear weapons against Iran because this might lead to retaliation by Russia or China, who would deem this measure unacceptable.”

The Bowls of Wrath are Coming: Revelation 16

Nuclear weapons back ‘in’ as countries up stakes in complex global tussle

China is believed to be building missile silos and accelerating its nuclear programme; the UK has increased the cap on its overall nuclear weapon stockpile; and the US is undertaking a multibillion-dollar nuclear modernisation programme. Are we seeing a new weapons race, and what is nuclear-free New Zealand doing to cool the situation? National Correspondent Lucy Craymer reports.

A worrying global trend is emerging that indicates disarmament is stalling and in some cases countries are now accumulating more weapons. In 2020, despite an overall decline in the number of nuclear warheads, more have been deployed with operational forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) year book.

Furthermore, earlier this month a US Pentagon report found China was accelerating its nuclear armament programme and is on track to have 1000 warheads by 2030. This follows the release of satellite imagery of north-central China that shows, according to analysts, the appearance of at least three vast missile silo fields under construction. China has not confirmed the facilities or increases in arsenal. 

The build-up is against a backdrop of geopolitical competition. Rivalry between the US and China continues to simmer; tensions between China and India are getting worse, with skirmishes reported at their border; and the relationship between India and Pakistan remains volatile.

“The risk of nuclear warfare is as bad – if not worse – now than at any time since the Cuban Missile crisis,” says Phil Twyford,​ Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control.​

The shift

Renewed interest in nuclear weapons heralds a shift away from a period little more than a decade ago when US President Barack Obama spoke publicly about his deep interest in reducing nuclear arms, and broadly there was an appetite for disarmament.

Maria Rost Rublee,​ associate professor​ in international relations​ at Monash University​ says in the past decade geopolitics have shifted. Now, the likes of Russia are relying more heavily on their nuclear stockpiles for military security.

“What’s different today [from during the Cold War] is that we don’t just have two countries facing off, we have a lot more countries with nuclear weapons, including countries that might be more willing to use them,” Rublee says.

The numbers

Earlier this month, the Pentagon estimated China will have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027. It currently has around 350, according to the Pentagon estimates.

However, Russia and the US continue to own over 90 per cent​ of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The US and Russia had more warheads in operation in January 2021 than a year earlier, even though they had reduced the overall number of weapons they had, according to SIPRI,​ an independent institute that does research in disarmament. 

This year, the UK reversed a policy of reducing the country’s nuclear arsenal and increased the planned cap on nuclear warheads; and there are reports that India, Pakistan and North Korea are expanding their capabilities.

Alicia Sanders-Zakre of ICAN,​ a non-government organisation focused on the abolition of nuclear weapons, says the increased risk from nuclear weapons is not solely about numbers. Increased use of cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence can result in miscalculations, she says. 

Nuclear technologies and arsenals are also increasingly sophisticated, making them an even more dangerous prospect in an unstable geopolitical climate.

China, for example, made headlines last month with a suspected test of a hypersonic weapons system. These weapons are low-flying, fast and easily manoeuvrable, which enables them to get around traditional missile defence systems.

America’s multibillion-dollar programme will modernise its arsenal over the next two decades. Its plans include developing two new nuclear warheads​ for its stockpile, according to US think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies​.

Why is a build-up happening? Are we heading into a new Cold War?

Indications that China is increasing its arsenal are seen as a possible shift away from its cautious approach to weapons. Unlike other countries with nuclear weapons, China says it would never initiate a nuclear weapons strike, instead the weapons are used as a deterrent.

Deterrence theory states that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons, through the promise of retaliation and possibly mutually assured destruction.

Chinese state-owned Global Times said any increase in weapons would be due to the comprehensive strategic threat the US poses and a shift in what a minimum deterrence looks like. “Our nuclear forces must become so powerful that the elites in Washington will tremble in fear at the mere thought of imposing a nuclear deterrent on China,” its August 7 article said.

Tanya Ogilvie-White, senior research adviser at the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network​, says China’s decision to expand its nuclear arsenal is a worrying development. But, she says, it’s partly a response to the nuclear modernisation going on in the likes of the US and Russia. Beijing has refrained from fielding some of the riskiest nuclear weapons, such as nuclear-capable cruise missiles, even though it has the capability to do so.

Ogilvie-White adds there has been a shift recently in the thinking of some decision makers globally, who now think actually firing a small nuclear weapon could de-escalate a situation as it would show a willingness to use such weapons.

“It’s deeply troubling,” says Ogilvie-White, who studies nuclear deterrence. “You don’t need many nuclear weapons to cause total havoc and kill millions of people. The idea that you could use them to win wars is a dangerous fallacy.”

Nuclear weapons levels globally do remain well below those seen during the Cold War.

The UK Government says that it needs to maintain nuclear weapons as a deterrent because the threats facing the country are increasing in scale, diversity and complexity, and abandoning nuclear weapons would put the country at greater risk.

How does Aukus fit within this?

Australia, the US and the UK have announced a new strategic partnership. As part of the agreement, Australia will get the technology required to build nuclear-powered submarines.

These are not nuclear weapons. However, it does raise concerns. Accidents happen. An increase in nuclear-propelled submarines boosts the risk that something could go wrong. It also raises questions about whether other countries could reach agreements for similar types of hardware.

It’s not all bad news

In January, a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons came into force. The treaty has been ratified by more than 55 countries​ – none of the nuclear powers have signed it.

Angela Woodward,​ who is deputy executive director of non-profit Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (Vertic)​, says while the treaty applies only to those who sign it, it makes nuclear weapons less acceptable and will hopefully create pressure in the same way treaty bans on chemical weapons and cluster munitions did.

According to an ICAN report, 127 financial institutions stopped investing in nuclear weapons this year, many due to the pressure that came about as a result of the treaty.

“The power of this treaty is only just starting to be realised,” says Woodward, who specialises in arms control and disarmament.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons​ remains in place and is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament. And in March, Russia and the US agreed to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)​ for five years, keeping in place the treaty’s verifiable limits on the deployed strategic nuclear arsenals of the world’s two largest nuclear powers. 

However, Woodward notes that nuclear states are “interpreting their disarmament obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty very widely”.

But is there more New Zealand can do?

New Zealand remains globally respected on nuclear issues due to its strong, and long-standing, stance against such weapons. Analysts say that New Zealand needs to continue to add its voice to concerns about non-proliferation and to speak out against activities by all nuclear-powered countries.

Twyford says he also believes New Zealand needs to continue to call out the nuclear weapon states for what they’re doing and not allow the diplomatic niceties or friendships and alliances to mute our voice. We do this, he says, in both multinational and bilateral forums.

“We are trying to build a renewed commitment to disarm. We’ve got to get out of this downward spiral.”

The Western Nuclear Horns Expand: Daniel 7

JOSEPH TREVITHICK 

The U.S. Army has officially reactivated the 56th Artillery Command in Germany. This unit was previously active in that country between 1963 and 1991, during which time it commanded battalions armed with Pershing and Pershing II nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. In its new guise, it will serve as a hub for artillery operations across Europe, including deployments of new ground-based hypersonic weapons and other longer-range missiles in the coming years. This reflects just how important the Army feels these new capabilities, and artillery in general, would be in any future major conflict in the region, especially against Russia.

The Army officially stood up the 56th Artillery Command in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, today, but news that the unit would return to active duty had emerged in August. The command is assigned to U.S. Army Europe and Africa, which oversees all conventional Army operations on both of those continents.https://2d6aee6d208f353187d24683e7125483.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The 56th is co-located in Mainz-Kastel with the Army’s second so-called Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF). The service’s MDTFs, the first of which was established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, are still-evolving units that are being used as testbeds to explore the introduction of new weapons and other capabilities. They are expected to have an operational role, especially in any future high-end conflict against a major opponent such as Russia or China. 

“The reactivation of the 56th Artillery Command will provide U.S. Army Europe and Africa with significant capabilities in multi-domain operations,” Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian, the head of the newly revived unit, said in a statement on Nov. 3. “It will further enable the synchronization of joint and multinational fires and effects, and employment of future long-range surface to surface fires across the U.S. Army Europe and Africa area of responsibility.”

Maranian’s mention of “future long-range surface to surface fires” is clearly a reference, at least in part, to two new missile systems the Army hopes to begin fielding in the next few years — Dark Eagle and Typhon.

Dark Eagle is the still relatively new name for the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW), which it is developing as part of a joint program with the U.S. Navy. The service is already in the process of standing up the first battery that will be equipped with these missiles, each of which carries an unpowered hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, as part of the MDTF at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Typhon, which the Army has also referred to as its future Mid-Range Capability (MRC), is a multi-purpose system that includes launchers and fire control systems that will be able to employ various types of missiles. At present, the service plans to use Typhon to fire land-based derivatives of the Navy’s SM-6 missile, which has air- and missile-defense capabilities as well as the ability to strike surface targets, along with ground-launched versions of the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile. The Army is expected to use its version of the SM-6 as a surface-to-surface ballistic missile.https://2d6aee6d208f353187d24683e7125483.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The Army is in the process of acquiring a new conventionally armed ballistic missile, the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which could eventually have a range of over 310 miles. There has been talk in recent years about the service fielding other new longer-range ballistic missiles, as well.

There is historical significance to reactivating the 56th Artillery Command, specifically, to oversee the future employment of these weapons in Europe. Dark Eagle, Typhon, and a future PrSM, would all have previously been banned under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which collapsed in 2019.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed this agreement in 1987. The INF entered into force the following year, and both sides implemented the provisions even as the Soviet Union collapsed and a new Russia emerged in 1991. The treaty was directly responsible for the removal of the Pershing II missile from Army service, which was then a key factor in the decision to stand down the 56th just over three decades ago. U.S. Air Force units armed with the BGM-109G Gryphon, an earlier ground-launched Tomahawk variant, were also eliminated as a result of the INF.