Many alarmists are attaching a historic and strategic significance to the Cold War reference, namely renewed military build-up in Russia. Since 2013, Russia has taken steps in modernizing its nuclear forces. This modernization of nuclear force has included the continuing development and preparation of new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It has also seen Russia construct ballistic missile submarines and a new strategic bomber.
In a paper about Russian nuclear forces published on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the authors admit, since their last Russian report in early 2013, Russia has taken several important steps to modernize nonstrategic and strategic nuclear forces. Authors Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimate as of March 2013 Russia had a military reserve of almost 4,300 nuclear warheads. Out of these thousands of nuclear explosives, the authors estimate approximately 1,600 strategic warheads were deployed at bomber bases on missiles.
The paper highlights that despite Russia’s 1991 and 1992 declaration that it would destroy all ground-launching nonstrategic nuclear warheads, it has failed to do so. Kristensen and Norris estimate that about 170 warheads are assigned to two short-range missiles.
Firing Short-Range Missiles
In 2013, the suggestion surfaced in the media that Russia had deployed SS-26s short-range ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad region. The German magazine Bild stated that satellite images showed the deployment of SS-26s. Bild’s revelations were, however, proven wrong. Following the report, President Putin stated Russia had not made a decision on whether Russia would deploy the missile in Kaliningrad. At the time, Putin admitted such deployment could potentially be a response to NATO’s missile defense system.
“We have said many times that the missile shield threatens our nuclear potential, and so we must respond. One possible response would be to station Iskanders in Kaliningrad,” Putin said in 2013.
The modernization of its nuclear force means the new Cold War that is brewing between Russia and America has the potential to go nuclear. Some experts say the crux of the global energy battle is centered on the arena of nuclear technology and not oil and gas. As Barbara Judge, former chair of the UK Atomic Energy Authority said in an interview with CNBC, in viewing nuclear as an excellent export product, Russia is now using nuclear as part of its plan to establish itself as a geopolitical economic power.
In what amounts to a sudden repeat of Cold War sensibilities, the US and its allies are weighing sanctions of Moscow. After demanding Putin pull back from an “incredible act of aggression”, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ukraine. In response to military advances on Ukraine, one consideration is to reinforce defenses in Europe. Before he left for Ukraine, Kerry said that in order to isolate Russia in terms of this invasion, world leaders are “prepared to go to the hilt”.
Despite the West’s warnings, Putin has given no indication he would heed the admonition. Instead, hundreds of armed Russian military surround a Ukrainian military base in Crimea.
“We are on the brink of disaster,” warned Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Reiterating Yatsenyuk’s warnings is Ohio Democratic representative Marcy Kaptur, who talked of the Crimea crisis being the most serious test of Russia/US alliances since the Cold War ended.
A New Cold War Era?
As Top Secret Writers wrote last month, Putin’s insistence on sending troops into a sovereign nation was nothing short of an “act of war”. Since the Cold War ended more than 20 years ago there has not been such an intense collision between Russia and the West.
Cold War tensions were driven largely by fear of nuclear weapons. It’s been estimated that as of 2013 Russia had a military reserve of almost 4,300 nuclear warheads, and this increases current Cold War fear of nuclear weapons.
In a news program on Russia’s state-ran media channel, a presenter stood in front of an image of a nuclear bomb exploding and said that out of all the countries in the world, Russia is the only one which has the capacity to turn America into radioactive dust.
What do you think? Does it sound like a threat to you?