Secret Kremlin papers warn experts: It won’t take much for Putin to push the nuclear button

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When will Russia detonate an atomic bomb? The “Financial Times” warns: Faster than previously thought.
Chiara SchlenzForeign editor

When will Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin (71) press the nuclear button? There is no answer; ignorance drives western countries. Until today: The British newspaper ‘Financial Times’ gained insight into secret Russian documents that answer exactly this question.

Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin: “The documents show that the operational threshold for using nuclear weapons is quite low if the desired result cannot be achieved by conventional means.” So should we prepare for nuclear war with Russia? Blick answers your most important questions.

What do these documents say?

‘Financial Times’ has obtained insight from anonymous ‘Western sources’ into a series of secret documents from the Russian armed forces on ‘hypothetical Chinese invasion scenarios’. That means: it is actually about the Russian strategy in the event of an attack from China. They show that Russia, despite its growing “friendship” with China, still harbors a lot of distrust in the country.

These documents also contain details of Russian doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons. They provide insight into Russia’s view of nuclear weapons as a pillar of its own defense – and how Russia prepares its forces to use such weapons. And that makes you sit up and take notice.

Why are experts so concerned about this?

The documents show that a nuclear war with Russia is much more likely than previously thought. According to the British newspaper, the documents reveal a “lower threshold for the use of tactical nuclear weapons” than Russia publicly admits. Moscow’s military doctrine would specifically provide for “the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the preparatory phase of a conflict with major world powers.”

Russia’s inhibition threshold for the use of nuclear weapons is much lower than previously thought.

In summary, the documents say: If Russia loses so many troops that it cannot stop “major enemy aggression,” or if 20 percent of Russia’s nuclear-armed submarines, 30 percent of its nuclear-powered submarines, three or more cruisers, airfields or command centers the coast is destroyed – then the use of nuclear weapons is justified for the Russian government.


While the scenarios in the 29 documents largely revolve around a supposed attack by China, experts told the Financial Times that these terms could also be applied to attacks from other countries.

What does Russia say about the use of nuclear weapons?

Last year, Kremlin chief Putin said that Russia’s nuclear doctrine allows for two possible thresholds for using nuclear weapons: retaliation for a first nuclear attack by an enemy and when “Russia’s survival as a state is threatened even if conventional weapons are used. However, he added that neither of these two scenarios is currently realistic.

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Nevertheless, Russian troops regularly train for a nuclear attack. In June and November last year, military exercises took place on Russia’s border with China, during which nuclear-capable Iskander missiles were also used.

Experts also assume that Russia could also use nuclear weapons as an “escalation to de-escalation.” Using the so-called ‘fear incentive’, Russia would try to end a conflict on its own terms. This is done by shocking the enemy with the early use of a small nuclear weapon – or by threatening such use to broker an agreement.


Are we on the brink of nuclear war?

No. Ukraine has destroyed key Russian warships and also attacked Russian territory, but not to the extent the documents stipulate as a prerequisite for a nuclear attack. Complicating matters are the statements by French President Emmanuel Macron (46) that he does not rule out the stationing of Western troops in Ukraine. That would turn the participating countries into warring parties and thus legitimate targets of Russian retaliation.

William Alberque, director of the US think tank IISS, told the Financial Times that Russia’s threshold for using nuclear weapons in connection with Ukraine is much higher than in other potential conflicts. This is because Ukraine does not have its own nuclear weapons.

While a nuclear attack on China or the US might be “intimidating,” a nuclear attack on Ukraine would likely escalate the conflict. It could also lead to direct intervention by the US or Britain, Alberque said. “That is absolutely the last thing Putin wants.”

How big is Russia’s nuclear arsenal?

Russia is currently the largest nuclear power in the world. Of the approximately 12,500 nuclear weapons in the world, 5,889 belong to the Russians, as the Nuclear Notebook of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists notes. If Russia decides to launch a nuclear attack on the West, Europe and the US will be unable to defend themselves. To achieve this, Europe in particular would have to increase its nuclear arsenal, Liviu Horovitz (40), NATO and nuclear expert at the Science and Politics Foundation in Berlin, explained to Blick a few weeks ago.

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Britain and France are the only two other NATO members with nuclear weapons. The two countries are among the five official nuclear weapons states, alongside the US, Russia and China. “The nuclear warheads are enough for the French and British to protect their own country. But when it comes to protecting other countries, the number and composition is too small compared to Russia.

Source: Blick



I am Amelia James, a passionate journalist with a deep-rooted interest in current affairs. I have more than five years of experience in the media industry, working both as an author and editor for 24 Instant News. My main focus lies in international news, particularly regional conflicts and political issues around the world.

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