The Director of the CIA said a few weeks ago that the Russian threat regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons (they are located in warehouses) should not be taken lightly, even though there is no practical evidence that they were going to be used.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argued that the West should not underestimate the nuclear risk to Ukraine; This warning came after the Kremlin announced the test of a very powerful intercontinental missile: the Sarmat. Intercontinental missiles are considered to be those capable of reaching a target at more than 5,500 kilometers, of evading defense systems (they are not detectable) and in this particular case, they would have the possibility of transporting 10 nuclear warheads.
The impact that tactical nuclear weapons have is very different from those that could be carried by the Sarmat missile: strategic nuclear weapons.
Tactical nukes have a range of 300 kilometers, can be launched from battlefield missiles such as those used to drop conventional bombs, artillery shells such as tanks, or be activated as a mine when enemy forces are close. Although, they have a power between 1 kiloton or less (1000 tons of TNT) up to 100 kilotons, the release of that amount of energy would have terrible effects. Keep in mind that the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the only time nuclear bombs were used) had 15 kilotons and killed 150,000 people immediately, destroyed infrastructure and left long-term effects.
It is estimated that Russia has about 2,000 tactical weapons in storage and that it has 2,565 strategic nuclear weapons, 1,588 deployed, about 1,000 stored but ready to use and 1,500 withdrawn but that could be used.
In relation to strategic nuclear weapons, it is believed that Russia has developed one of the most powerful in the world that would contain a power of 800 kilotons and that the demonstration of the transport capacity of its missiles since the invasion of Ukraine, responds to the doctrine Russian military “escalation to de-escalation”.
Despite constant warnings from Russia about its nuclear power, it seems unlikely that even tactics will be used. There is constant monitoring of movements in warehouses and launch sites and no movement has been detected.
It is not known how the West would react to the use of a nuclear bomb, even a tactical one, but it would be crossing a line and nobody wants an all-out nuclear war, not even Vladimir Putin.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, turned into a war hero, inspiring the Ukrainian troops and moving the world and the rhetoric used by Russia to demonstrate to its population the need for the military offensive in Ukraine and the superiority of its “enemies” they are part of a key component in the conflict.
Until now, the weapons used in the war are conventional, Ukraine is receiving strong help from the United States and Europe, in particular, weapons designed for fighting in the Donbas region. This fact raises Russia’s concern, as does NATO’s direct invitation to Sweden and Finland to join, since it would double the kilometers of border that the military alliance has today.
Given the uncertainty about the duration of the confrontation, the failures of the diplomatic solution, it would seem that it will be settled on the battlefield, which will make the impact on civilians more and more atrocious, either because they are displaced from their homes, their women and girls die under Russian fire or are raped.
*Coordinator of SEHLAC, director of APP and member of the Board of Directors of ICAN, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
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