The cost of an (unlikely) nuclear war is the apocalypse


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Submarino da Marinha Russa transita pelo Mar Negro, em frente à Mesquita Azul de Istambul, na Turquia, em 13 de fevereiro de 2022: exercícios maciços em meio às tensões entre a Rússia e a Ucrânia

Russian Navy submarine transits the Black Sea in front of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, in Turkey, at of February 2019: Massive exercises amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine| Photo: EFE/EPA/ERDEM SAHIN

Since placing the nuclear forces of Russia on high alert, President Vladimir Putin has been sending messages to the West about the use of nuclear weapons. Bravado or not – the truth is that it is difficult to predict how far Putin would go to emerge victorious from the conflict – a nuclear war has the potential to hit seriously almost 70 millions of people, just in the first few hours. This is what a simulation made by researchers from the Science and Global Security Program at Princeton University in the United States shows.

The study, by 2019, claims that a nuclear confrontation between the United States and Russia, triggered by of low income, would result in 20, 1 million dead and 57, 4 million injured in a few hours. Together, the two countries hold more than 90% of the world’s arsenals. The death toll could be much higher, considering the medium and long-term consequences, which include radioactive fallout and global cooling.

Climate changes

Russia leads possession of warheads

A ranking released by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states that at the beginning of 2013, nine countries had .428 nuclear warheads. Russia leads the list, with 5.768 nuclear weapons. The USA appears in the second position, with 5.290. China (214), France (290), Kingdom Kingdom (150), Pakistan (90), India (89), Israel (64) and North Korea (15) come next.

The scenario is even more terrifying if one considers that despite the fact that nuclear arsenals have been decreasing since the Cold War (in 1986, there were more than 59 a thousand warheads), the current rate of reduction is lower compared to the last ones 19 years old. And part of that decline is a result of the United States and Russia getting rid of old weapons that have been retired. The FAS also points to the trend that countries such as China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and possibly Russia, are increasing their stocks.

Would Putin push the button?

On Tuesday (1), submarines Russian nuclear weapons in military exercise were seen in the Barents Sea, which is in the north of the country, according to the Associated Press. The tests, justified by Russia as “maneuvering in stormy conditions”, sounded to the West as a threat from President Vladimir Putin.

The head of the European Union (EU) delegation to the Russian Federation, Markus Ederer, said this Thursday ( 3) that the Russian authorities are discussing the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a “tactical” way, with the aim of de-escalating the conflict caused by the invasion of Ukraine.

“In the corresponding circles there is a debate about the use of tactical nuclear weapons, it is not nuclear ‘armageddon’, but to show that if the enemy continues its advances, nuclear weapons are an option “, said Ederer during a speech at the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee. The information is from the EFE agency.

For Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 and editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, “there is a real threat of nuclear war”.

“In this TV speech (in

of February, when the invasion of Ukraine began), Putin was not acting like the owner of the Kremlin, but the owner of the planet; in the same way that the owner of a big car is showing off by turning his key ring on his finger, Putin was turning the nuclear bomb. He said many times: if there were no Russia, why would we need the planet? No one paid attention. But this is a threat that if Russia is not treated as he wants, everything will be destroyed.”

Despite having placed the country’s nuclear forces in “special service regime”, on the day 15 of February, the Russian representative would have no intention of pressing ” the red nuclear button”. This is what the spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Affairs, Maria Zakharova, assured this Wednesday (2), according to the EFE agency.

“We start from the point that this apocalyptic script will not be carried out under any pretext and under any conditions,” the Russian representative told Colombian broadcaster W Radio.

According to the Russian doctrine of nuclear deterrence, approved by Putin in

, which is defensive in nature, the Kremlin reserves the right to attack with nuclear weapons in case of external aggression or threat to the survival of the State.

Among the situations of danger foreseen by the document is the use by the enemy of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against the territory of Russia or its allies, in addition to actions against state or military installations vital to the country, which cause it to lose control over the nuclear command.

External aggression with the use of conventional weapons that threatens “the the very existence of the State” would also be grounds for a nuclear response. Russia may also resort to nuclear weapons if it receives credible information about the launch of a ballistic missile against its territory or from allies.

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