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Bota

Russia threatens the nuclear apocalypse, how the attack against the West would be organized, what is the "Dead Hand", the system that would bring the end of the world with just one button, here are the three people who can make the catastrophic decision

Russia threatens the nuclear apocalypse, how the attack against the West would

President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Wednesday that Russia is technically ready for a nuclear war and that if the US sends its troops to Ukraine, it will consider it a significant escalation of the war. But how strong and large is Russia's nuclear arsenal ? Russia, which inherited Soviet nuclear weapons, has the world's largest stockpile of nuclear warheads. Putin controls about 5,580 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Of these, about 1,200 are "retired" but still relatively conserved, and about 4,380 are waiting in storage and can be used in long-range strategic missiles or used by tactical forces for shorter-range targets the action. Among the warheads in stock, 1,710 have been deployed: about 870 are land-based ballistic missiles, about 640 are submarine-launched, and perhaps about 200 are on heavy bomber bases. Such a large number means that Moscow can destroy the whole world several times over.

Nuclear doctrine

Russia has published its 2020 nuclear doctrine, which outlines the conditions under which the Russian president would consider using nuclear weapons: it would be in response to an attack by another country with nuclear weapons or some other weapon of destruction on measure, or an attack on Russia with conventional weapons, where 'the existence of the entire state would be called into question'. The US said in its 2022 Nuclear Posture Review that Russia and China are expanding and modernizing their nuclear forces and that Washington will maintain an arms control-based approach to prevent an arms race. "Russia's nuclear arsenal and operations have changed little since our 2023 assessments, other than continued modernization," FAS said in its 2024 analysis of Russian forces.

Weapons tests

Putin said Russia would consider testing nuclear weapons if the US did the same. Last year, he signed a law withdrawing Russia's ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Russia has not conducted any nuclear tests since Soviet times. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, only a handful of countries have conducted nuclear tests, according to a report by the Arms Control Association: the US last tested in 1992, China and France in 1996, India and Pakistan in 1998, and North Korea in 2017. The last nuclear test of the USSR was in 1990. Russia signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 and ratified it in 2000. The US signed the Treaty in 1996, but has not yet ratified it.

"Dead Hand"

The Russian president is the one who makes the final decision on the use of Russian nuclear weapons. The so-called nuclear bag or 'Cheget' is always with the president. It is believed that the Russian Minister of Defense, currently Sergey Shoigu, and the Chief of the General Staff, currently Valery Gerasimov, have such bags. Essentially, the bag is a communication tool that connects the president with his military leadership and missile forces via the Kazbek electronic network. Footage broadcast by Russian TV channel Zvezda in 2019 showed what was said to be one of the bags with a row of buttons. There are two buttons there: a white 'start' button and a red 'cancel' button. The wallet is activated with a special card. If Russia believed it was facing a nuclear attack, the president would send a direct release order through briefcases to the General Staff command and reserve command units receiving the nuclear codes. This would be followed by an attack on the United States and Europe. If a nuclear attack were confirmed, Putin could activate the so-called "Dead Hand" or "Perimeter" system. In that case, in fact, computers would decide the end of the world.

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