The Russian Federation possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, russia has more than 6452 nuclear warheads in its stock. Russia’s nuclear weapons system possesses massive destructive power, so NATO must always worry – right from the initial warnings of Moscow officials.
“Russia’s nuclear weapons can be launched from land, sea and air at the same time. With some supersonic or hypersonic missiles carrying warheads with very powerful individual targeting capabilities. In the case of a large-scale war with the NATO forces, the entire forces of NATO will be completely destroyed in the maximum duration 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-mentioned statement correct?
The leaders of the Russian Federation have repeatedly stated that they will use all available methods to protect their territory and sovereignty. Such statements of the Russia 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 as one of its strategic priorities. One big sign of this was the announcement in 2018 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he declared about five new weapon systems, three of which are capable of carrying payload of 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 United States, United Kingdom, Russia and Ukraine which guarantees the security of Kyiv, 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 with the help of 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-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and cruise missiles launched from strategic bombers.
Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are currently equipped with five different types of ICBMs: RS-24 Yars, R-36M Satan, RT-2PML Topol-M, RS-28 Sarmat and Avangard.
These types of ballistic missiles can carry very high-capacity warheads, equivalent to an explosive yield of up to 2 megatones (equivalent to 2 million tons of TNT). Russian ICBMs fly at the speed of Mach 20 making them very difficult to intercept and track.
The Russian Navy has 10 nuclear submarines which carry the Bulava Submarine-launched Ballistic Missiles with the striking range of 8,000 km, and it is almost impossible to detect nuclear submarines when they are operating inside deep sea.
As for the airforce, here the means of carrying nuclear weapons are the Tupolev Tu-160s “White Swan” Long-range Heavy Strategic Bombers, and Tu-95 Bombers. These bombers are loaded with Kh-55 Cruise Missiles with the 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, tactical nuclear weapons can be easily fired by large-caliber artillery systems.
Russian self-propelled artillery systems and mortars can fire tactical nuclear weapons upto a good range. Russian Iskander-M Tactical Ballistic Missile can also fire nuclear warheads upto long ranges.
In addition, Russia also owns the Kalibr long-range cruise missile that can be launched from land, sea and air, 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.