Russia Nuclear Threat: Putin Orders Nuclear Weapons on “High Alert”

  • 2 years ago
MOSCOW — After invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has escalated the situation further by ordering the transfer of “deterrence forces ... to a special mode of combat duty,” thus raising the specter of nuclear war.

“While the ambiguous order could simply be a threat to the U.S., one strategic alternative is that it could mean Russia is dispersing intercontinental ballistic missiles from their bases and fitting them to long-range heavy bombers, according to one senior fellow at international affairs think tank the Carnegie Endowment cited by The Financial Times.”

“The order could also involve moving tactical warheads from centralized storage facilities to deployment locations as a threat to Ukraine.”

“However, alternatively, Pavel Podvig, a senior research scientist at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, suggested it could mean that the Russian nuclear command and control system received what is known as a ‘preliminary command,’ which essentially means “connecting the wires” of the system so that if a launch order was issued, it would go through.”

“In peacetime, the system is there but the circuitry is disconnected,” Podvig explained on Twitter. “Even if you press the button, nothing would happen.”

“However, if the early-warning system detects an attack or if Russia believes it entered a threatening period, the national command authority can bring the system into a working condition, connecting the wires,” he said.

Podvig added that the preliminary command could also trigger ‘visible actions,’ such as submarines leaving ports or weapons loaded on bombers, and bomber dispersals. But this is not necessarily the case: Everything could stay on the level of circuits.

Importantly, he concluded by saying that the order is not something that suggests Russia is preparing itself to strike first, adding that in his view a first strike has never been an option.