If there is a conflict, will Russia’s nuclear weapons ‘solve’ NATO forces in just half an hour?

Russia’s nuclear weapons system possesses destructive power, so NATO must always be wary – right from the initial warnings of Moscow officials.

“Russia’s nuclear weapons can be launched from land, air, and sea, with some missiles carrying warheads with very powerful individual targeting capabilities. In the event of a conflict, force NATO forces will be destroyed within a maximum of half an hour.”

This statement is published by the Arabic version of the Al Mayadeen website, authored by Mr. Mohammed Mansour, so is the above statement correct?

The leaders of the Russian Federation have repeatedly stated that they will use all means to protect their territory and sovereignty. Such statements gained more attention after Moscow annexed some territories of Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly talked about nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence before, which has always been considered one of its strategic priorities. One concrete sign is the announcement in 2018 by President Vladimir Putin of five new weapons systems, three of which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The topic of nuclear weapons also became more prominent after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned to withdraw from the 1994 Budapest Memorandum of Understanding signed by the US, UK, Russia, and Ukraine, which guaranteed Kyiv’s security in exchange for giving up the nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union.

Moreover, Ukraine retains the technical potential to create weapons of mass destruction. The existing shortcomings of the Uranium enrichment system can be completely solved by the West.

In February 2022, following the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrent was placed on special alert.

Russia’s nuclear potential consists of three weapons-launching platforms: fixed and mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-based missiles, and strategic bomber cruise missiles.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) are equipped with five types of ICBMs: RS-24 Yars (NATO reporting name SS-29), R-36M Satan (SS-18), RT -2PM2 Topol-M (SS- 27), RS-28 Sarmat (SS-28) and Avangard (SS-19).

These types of ballistic missiles can carry high-capacity warheads, equivalent to an explosive yield of up to 2 megatons (equivalent to 2 million tons of TNT). The missile’s speed is 20 times the speed of sound making it very difficult to intercept.

The Russian Navy has 10 nuclear submarines carrying Bulava ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 8,000 km, it is almost impossible to identify these ships when they operate in the deep sea.

As for the air force, here the means of carrying nuclear weapons are Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers integrated with Kh-55 cruise missiles with a warhead capacity of 200 to 500 kilotons.

In addition, Russia possesses tactical nuclear weapons designed to increase firepower in combat operations in a limited geographical area. For example, this weapon can be fired from a large caliber cannon.

Russian self-propelled artillery and mortars such as Malka 203 mm, Tyulpan 240 mm, Hyacinth-S 152 mm can fire nuclear weapons. The nuclear device is also mounted on the Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile.

In addition, Russia also owns the Kalibr cruise missile that can be launched from the air, land, and sea, in addition to the Kinzhal hypersonic missile that travels 10 times faster than the speed of sound.

It remains uncertain whether Russia has an urgent need to use tactical or strategic nuclear weapons, but deterrence will remain part of Kremlin policy.

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