What is tactical nuclear weapons and can Russia use them against Ukraine

On September 21, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, after announcing a partial mobilization in Russia, again threatened Western countries with the use of nuclear weapons.

He stated that in the event of a threat to territorial integrity, the Kremlin will use “all means at its disposal” to protect the Russian Federation, and stressed that this is allegedly not a bluff.

For his part, the deputy head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, General Vadim Skibitsky, said that Putin is seriously considering the possibility of a nuclear war. After all, the Russians want to stop our counteroffensive and destroy the state.

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What you need to know about nuclear weapons and whether the Russian Federation can use them against Ukraine – read in the material.

What are tactical nuclear weapons?

The division into strategic and tactical nuclear weapons is very conditional. It’s believed that tactical nuclear weapons These are nuclear warheads, delivery systems and ammunition designed to hit large targets at the front and in the immediate rear.

Tactical usually include aviation nuclear bombs. They are dropped by fighter-bombers and front-line bombers.

The equivalent of tactical nuclear bombs is usually varies from kilotons to hundreds of kilotons. Tactical nuclear weapons can also be used by ships. It can be either anti-ship missiles or torpedoes or depth charges.

In the same time strategic nuclear weapons more (up to 1 thousand kilotons). It is launched from a great distance and can level an entire city to the ground.

Strategic nuclear weapons are designed to inflict crushing blow within the great warand tactical – for use on the battlefield.

In Russia, only the most powerful carriers that overcome intercontinental distances are classified as strategic nuclear weapons. Russians even have such definitions as nuclear triad and doomsday missiles.

These are intercontinental ballistic missiles based on submarines, strategic naval forces and Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that can use air-launched missiles. It is this weapon that the Russian Federation has, since it was inherited from the USSR.

But even earlier in Center for Counteracting Disinformation explained that the use of such weapons against Ukraine is unlikely. This is because the conventional distance between Kyiv and Moscow is only 750 km. Respectively, a nuclear strike would pose a threat to Russia as well.

Therefore, when the Kremlin once again uses nuclear blackmail, it mainly provides for tactical nuclear weapons, which are in service with the Russian Federation.

What is known about the tactical nuclear potential of the Russian Federation?

According to information Federation of American Scientists, Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads. But about 1,500 of them have been decommissioned and are to be dismantled.

That’s why approximately 4,477 nuclear warheads remain. They are intended for use by long-range strategic launchers and short-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, 977 strategic warheads are in storage, and 1,588 deployed:

  • 812 – are on ground-based ballistic missiles;
  • 576 – on ballistic missiles of submarines;
  • possibly 200 at heavy bomber bases.

There are also 1,912 non-strategic warheads in storage in Russia.

For comparison, NATO countries have 5,943 nuclear warheads (USA has 5,428, France 290, Britain 225). China has 350 warheads, Pakistan 165, India 160, Israel 90.

Have tactical nuclear weapons been used before?

Tactical nuclear weapons have never been used. Nuclear states have recognized that it is possible to effectively destroy targets on the battlefield with modern conventional munitions.

In addition, no country has so far been willing to risk starting a nuclear war by using tactical nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the military doctrine of the Russian Federation provides that it reserves the right use nuclear weapons in response on the use against it and (or) its allies of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.

How does the world react to Putin’s threats?

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is convinced that the world community will not allow Russian dictator Vladimir Putin use nuclear weapons. But he acknowledges that there are still risks.

However, according to the head of state, in any case, one should not succumb to Putin’s threats and blackmail.

– Tomorrow Putin can say: in addition to Ukraine, we want another part of Poland, otherwise we will use nuclear weapons. We cannot make these compromises,” he explained.

US President Joe Biden also assured: if Putin decides to use chemical or nuclear weapons, this will turn the Russians into the biggest exiles in the world and will not go unanswered by the States and other civilized countries.

He did not specify what specific steps the American side would take in response, but stressed that there would definitely be consequences for Russia in the event of the use of chemical or nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the former commander of American troops in Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, does not rule out that such an answer could be liquidation by the US Armed Forces of the Russian Black Sea Fleet or military bases in the Crimea temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss called Putin’s nuclear threats “saber-rattling” and said that this blackmail would not work.

For his part, EU speaker Peter Stano said that Putin is playing a dangerous nuclear gameso the international community must be united in putting pressure on the Kremlin to stop such insane behavior.

Polish President Andrzej Duda also reacted to Russia’s nuclear blackmail. He stressed that in the event of the use of weapons of mass destruction, the consequences for the Russians will be enormous.

– The US also has buttons that launch nuclear missiles. The states are a big nuclear state. The fact that they take it seriously also poses a threat to Russia,” he said.

Are there any reasons for concern?

Military expert Alexander Kovalenko, in a commentary to ICTV Facts, says that the use of nuclear weapons by Russia against Ukraine is unrealistic. He explains: Putin understands well what his nuclear triad is.

In particular, the head of the Kremlin is aware that virtually all of these missiles, which are the main ones for use today, primarily the UR 100N UTTKh, are old Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles that have not been produced since the 1980s.

In addition, during their stay on the balance sheet of the Russian Federation, they had to undergo regular technological maintenance. But it didn’t happen because of total corruption in Russia.

“Instead of servicing nuclear weapons, most of them have been forgotten about. A huge number of these missiles are not suitable for use. They can behave very unpredictably if you have to launch them, the expert says.

Alexander Kovalenko also draws attention to another aspect. He explains: if the Russian Federation uses nuclear weapons, one way or another this will be a blow not only to the territory of Ukraine.

In this case, there will be a defeat of any of the countries of the European Union. After all, here much depends on how, for example, radiation will spread after such an impact.

And this can already be perceived by the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as violation of Article 5 of Collective Security (if any of the member states of the Alliance becomes a victim of an armed attack, all other member states of the alliance, without exception, will consider this an armed attack on them all, – Ed.).

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Oleksandr Kovalenko recalls that this was exactly what NATO was talking about when there was a real threat of a catastrophe at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.

“All the narratives that Putin and Russian propaganda on the use of nuclear weapons are using today are not aimed at intimidating Ukraine or the international community.

Their task is to convince the Russian consumer that the Russian Federation still has a “wonder weapon”, which is feared all over the world. Therefore, this is another element of propaganda, but nothing more, – the expert explains.

The military expert adds that this is confirmed by the relevant reports on the results of the exercises, which were held last summer and during which the combat capability of nuclear weapons was tested.

The documents said that the nuclear triad The Russian Federation cannot 100% guarantee the destruction of a certain objectlocated outside of Russia. This is because a huge number of technical surprises can arise. In particular, during launch, the rocket may remain in the mine and explode there.

And this is just one of the scenarios. Therefore, according to Alexander Kovalenko, the nuclear weapons of the Russian Federation today pose a threat not so much to other countries, but to Russia itself.

The article is in Russian

Tags: tactical nuclear weapons Russia Ukraine

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