Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements yesterday, Saturday, about his country’s conclusion of an agreement with its neighbor Belarus to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, once again shed light on the details of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, its size and who controls it.
Amid rising tensions between Moscow and the West, especially the United States, and the recent build-up of nuclear threats and hints about fears of the Russian side using any nuclear weapons, questions have surfaced about the authority that holds the reins on the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Russia, which inherited the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons. And the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear warheads.
The United States has about 1,644 strategic nuclear warheads already deployed.
Who owns the nuclear decision?
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to the use of Russian nuclear weapons, both strategic and non-strategic, according to the Russian Nuclear Doctrine.
He carries the so-called nuclear briefcase with him at all times.
Is nuclear war approaching?
The current Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the current Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov are also believed to be carrying two other briefcases.
Essentially, this nuclear briefcase is a communication tool linking the president to his senior military officers and then to the missile forces through the highly classified electronic command and control network (Kazbek). Kazbek supports another system known as Kavkaz.
But Putin could activate his so-called dead hand system as a last resort, the computers that decide the so-called “doomsday” command and control missile to launch nuclear strikes.
And footage broadcast by the Russian TV channel Zvezda in 2019 showed what it said at the time was one of the nuclear bags, which was equipped with a set of buttons.
Nuclear (expressive – iStock)
In a section called (command), two buttons appeared, one of which was a white power button and the other a red cancel button.
But when does this system work?
No doubt he would if Russia believed it was facing a strategic nuclear attack.
Then the president sends through the briefcases a direct launch order to the General Staff Command and the reserve command units that carry nuclear codes.
These orders are quickly chained to the various communications systems and Strategic Missile Force units, which then fire at the presumed “enemies” or attackers.
It is noteworthy that the Federation of American Scientists had previously indicated that the Russian president now controls about 5977 of these warheads, as of 2022, compared to 5428 controlled by US President Joe Biden.
However, he noted that approximately 1,500 of these warheads have been taken out of service (but may still be intact), while 2,889 are in reserve and 1,588 have been deployed as strategic warheads.
(Expressive – iStock)
While the Bulletin of Atomic Saints Foundation indicated that about 812 of these warheads are being deployed on ground-based ballistic missiles, about 576 on ballistic missiles launched from submarines, and about 200 on heavy bombers bases, according to Reuters.
In addition, Russia operates ten nuclear-armed submarines that can carry a maximum of 800 warheads, and has between 60 and 70 nuclear launchers.
It also has about 400 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can carry up to 1,185 warheads.
In conclusion, all these numbers mean one thing, which is that both Moscow and Washington can destroy the world several times!