The world looks at Russia and Ukraine. The war is dominating all the news. While Putin has so far refused to budge from his course of war, fears of a possible nuclear war are growing in this country.
But how likely is it that Russia will make use of its most destructive weapons and even start a nuclear war?
The Swedish Institute for Peace Research estimates that there are around 15,000 nuclear weapons worldwide. These are distributed among the nine nuclear powers Pakistan, India, France, Great Britain, China, North Korea, the USA and Russia. The latter two states possess the largest arsenals. Russia is estimated to have some 6,200 nuclear warheads.
Germany, on the other hand, pledged to renounce possession of any nuclear weapons after the end of World War II and ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975. However, U.S. forces store about 100 nuclear weapons at several sites on the territory of the Federal Republic. Fighter pilots of the Bundeswehr are available as possible carriers.
A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry said Monday that the Air Force is prepared to transport and, if necessary, fire U.S. nuclear weapons in the event of a crisis as part of the so-called nuclear sharing program.
Vladimir Putin openly threatened to use his nuclear weapons. Thus, he first said in his declaration of war that there should be no doubt „that any possible aggressor will experience defeat and threatening consequences of unprecedented proportions.“ In this context, he warned the West not to interfere in the Ukraine war.
According to „Der Standard“ climate researchers believe that a nuclear war, that is, the use of many nuclear weapons in one strike, would cause a „nuclear winter.“
Accordingly, the temperature on the entire earth would cool down by 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. In addition, there would be permanent darkness. Huge clouds of ash would obscure the sun. Food could no longer be grown on the frozen soils. People and animals would either freeze to death or starve. In addition, there would be radioactive contamination.
Putin’s conditions for ending the war
Russian President Vladimir Putin has set conditions for ending the invasion of Ukraine. The government in Kiev must recognize the „people’s republics“ of Luhansk and Donetsk and Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Kremlin announced. In addition, Ukraine would have to demilitarize and transfer to neutral status and thus not become a NATO member.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that despite Russian threats of nuclear weapons, NATO sees no need to change its own nuclear alert level. „We will always do what is necessary to protect and defend our allies, but we do not believe it is necessary now to change the alert levels of NATO’s nuclear weapons,“ Stoltenberg said during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at an air base in Lask.
The German government has sharply criticized President Vladimir Putin’s putting Russia’s nuclear forces on alert. „We of course take the Russian president’s statements very very seriously,“ government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Monday. „It is also clear how irresponsible such a threat alone is.“
A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry pointed out that the Bundeswehr itself does not possess nuclear weapons. It does, however, provide aircraft that would transport and, if necessary, fire U.S. nuclear weapons in the event of a crisis as part of so-called nuclear sharing.
Olaf Scholz said: „Our guiding principle remains the question: What hits those responsible the hardest? Those who are at stake. And not the Russian people. Because Putin, not the Russian people, decided to go to war. That’s why it needs to be said clearly: This war is Putin’s war.“
He said this differentiation is important to him because „the reconciliation between Germans and Russians after World War II is and remains an important chapter in our common history.“
There is speculation that Putin’s ally Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus, is now joining his country in the war in Ukraine. Belarusian paratroopers are said to have received orders to enter Ukraine early Monday morning. This is reported by the Ukrainian agency Unian.
The Belarusian strongman also claimed, „Russia is being pushed into World War 3 by the West.“ Above all, he said, the sanctions that the West has now announced leave Putin no choice at all.
„Now there is a lot of talk about the banking sector, gas, oil and SWIFT. This is worse than war,“ the Belarus president said. „We have to keep a low profile here so as not to get into trouble. A nuclear war is the end of everything,“ The Sun further quotes Lukashenko as saying.