Putin's Ukraine Nuclear War Threats Must Be Taken Seriously

Russia Nuclear Weapons
March 14, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkraineMilitaryNuclear WeaponsDefenseWar In Ukraine

Putin's Ukraine Nuclear War Threats Must Be Taken Seriously

The escalating nuclear threat from Russia, accentuated by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, puts a spotlight on President Vladimir Putin's unpredictable demeanor and alarming rhetoric on nuclear weaponry.

Summary: The escalating nuclear threat from Russia, accentuated by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, puts a spotlight on President Vladimir Putin's unpredictable demeanor and alarming rhetoric on nuclear weaponry. With election season underway in Russia, Putin's assured re-election is being promoted through a media blitz, despite the nation's corrupt political landscape rendering it almost unnecessary. Putin's boast about Russia's superior nuclear triad, capable of launching nuclear weapons from ground, air, and sea, underscores a formidable deterrence strategy. These assertions are not taken lightly, as the Kremlin has issued credible nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West since the conflict's inception on February 24, 2022.

Global Alert: The Realities of Russia's Nuclear Strategy Under Putin's Regime

The large-scale invasion of Ukraine showed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unhinged and unpredictable. So when he starts talking about nuclear weapons, Putin’s words might not be completely empty. 

Putin's Nuclear Threats

It is election season in Russia, and Putin is going on a media spree to bolster his image – though in the country’s corrupt political system, it’s rather unnecessary. His re-election for another six years is certain. 

During one of his media appearances, Putin spoke about the Russian nuclear triad. 

“Our triad, the nuclear triad, it is more modern than any other triad. Only we and the Americans actually have such triads. And we have advanced much more here,” the Russian leader said in an interview on Russian state television. 

When referring to the “triad,” Putin was talking about the capability of some nuclear powers to launch nuclear weapons from the ground, air, and sea. The ability to launch nukes from these three domains creates the best possible deterrence, as it ensures a second strike in the event of a surprise attack. 

For example, if Russia attacked the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carrying nuclear warheads, the U.S. military would be able to respond with a nuclear strike from its submarines, which patrol around the world nonstop with nukes at the ready. During the Cold War, when tensions with the Soviet Union were sky-high, the U.S. Air Force had strategic bombers armed with nuclear weapons flying 24/7, ready to strike back in the event of a surprise Soviet attack. 

If it works properly, a nuclear triad is unbeatable and lets the other side know that a surprise first strike would not go unpunished. 

The Kremlin has repeatedly threatened Ukraine and the West with nuclear warfare since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022. These are credible threats. The U.S. intelligence community even prepared assessments for a possible Russian tactical nuclear strike somewhere in Ukraine. 

But how many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

The Russian Nuclear Weapons Arsenal 

The Russian military possesses the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. While estimates vary, the Kremlin probably has around 5,600 nuclear warheads of all sizes and destructive power. 

The Strategic Rocket Forces, a separate branch of the Russian military, is responsible for maintaining and operating Moscow’s ground-launched nuclear weapons. Western estimates suggest that Russia has over 300 ICBMs that can be matched with about 1,200 nuclear warheads.

When it comes to the maritime component of the Russian nuclear triad, the Russian Navy has 11 ballistic missile submarines (Delta, Kilo, and Borei class subs) that can each carry about 16 ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.

Finally, the air leg of the Russian nuclear triad includes Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear long-range strategic bombers that can carry air-launched cruise missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. The Russian Aerospace Forces are also working on a new bomber, the PAK DA, which is expected to have some sort of stealth capabilities. 

About the Author

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP. Email the author: [email protected].

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