Russia’s nuclear force, the world’s biggest

(FILES) A picture taken on March 18, 2008 shows Russian Topol ICBMs missiles during a rehearsal for the nation's annual May 9 Victory Day parade, 50 km outside Moscow in Yushkovo. Russia on August 28, 2008 successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to overcome anti-missile systems, news agencies reported, citing Russia's strategic nuclear forces. The Topol RS-12M, similar to Topol-M, missile was tested "to develop equipment for potential combat use against ground-based ballistic missiles," Alexander Vovk, a spokesman for the forces, was quoted as saying by Interfax. AFP PHOTO / FILES 6 DIMA KOROTAYEV (Photo credit should read DIMA KOROTAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

A vivid reminder that President Vladimir Putin is in charge of what analysts think is the largest nuclear arsenal in the world has been provided by his order to put Russia’s strategic forces on high alert.

Here is an overview of Russia’s nuclear capabilities and the potential trajectory of a strike.

— The most warheads —

The United States possesses more deployed, or instantly useable, nuclear warheads than any other nation, while Russia has the most total nuclear warheads.

6,255 Russian warheads have been identified by the Stockholm-based SIPRI peace research center, compared to 5,550 US warheads. With 350 and 290 respectively, China and France are far behind.

Even while these numbers are commonly acknowledged, they are still only estimates, particularly since not all nuclear-capable weapons systems actually have nuclear warheads.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, estimates that Russia spent $8.0 billion on the development and upkeep of its nuclear arsenal in 2020.

— Chain of command —

According to the Russian constitution, the president has authority over nuclear weapons, but the defence minister and chief of staff of the armed forces must also approve any orders to use them.

The precise outcome of such a situation is something that “we don’t know,” according to Pavel Podvig, a Russian independent military analyst.

He continued, “It’s not like there is a button on the president’s table, there is a mechanism. The two subordinates have no right to veto, but there is still some kind of debating process.

Even if a nuclear strike order were to be issued, it is still unclear if the military services would follow it.

Pavel Luzin, a Russian military specialist based in Moscow at the think tank Riddle, declared that “they are not crazy and they are not sectarians.”

Many Russian government officials would concur with western analysts who claim that if Russia started a nuclear war, it would lose far more than it would gain.

The thought of restricted nuclear use in or near Ukraine won’t excite the Russian military elite, in the opinion of Kristin Ven Bruusgaard of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

But who will inform Putin that this might not actually be successful?” she continued.

— Doctrine and reality —

In the “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” from last week, researchers Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda remembered that Putin adopted a policy for the potential use of nuclear weapons in 2020.

According to the doctrine, there are four scenarios that would justify using nuclear weapons: a ballistic missile strike on Russia or an ally; the enemy using a nuclear weapon; an attack on a Russian nuclear weapons facility; or any action that poses a threat to the state’s survival.

Putin was cited as adding that Russia, which asserts that close to 90% of its nuclear arsenal has been modernized, could never permit itself to “stand inactive” in the face of possible threats.

They cited Putin as stating, “You pause for a second and you start lagging behind immediately.”

They emphasized that Russian thinking might already have strayed from the theory that had been made public.

For instance, they claimed, “officials expressly threatened to use nuclear weapons against ballistic missile defense facilities, and in regional scenarios that do not include strikes involving WMDs or pose a threat to Russia’s life.”

They said, “The real ideology extends beyond fundamental deterrence and into regional war fighting techniques, or even weapons designed to cause terror.”


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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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