Most of the Russian and U.S. bombs are more than ten times more powerful—in explosive yield—than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima [pictured above left] and Nagasaki [pictured above right] and killed about two hundred and fourteen thousand people by the end of 1945, according to the Arms Control Association.*
Dmitry Kiselyev, a longtime Kremlin propagandist who is known as one of the most sulfurous personalities on Russian television, opened his state television program on Sunday [February 27, 2022] with a rundown of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. “In total our submarines are capable of launching over five hundred nuclear warheads, which are guaranteed to destroy the U.S. and all the countries of NATO to boot,” he said. “That’s according to the principle, ‘Why do we need a world if Russia’s not in it?’ ” He went on, “We’re not even going to talk about the strategic rocket forces. . . .Putin warned them. Don’t try to frighten Russia.”**
Putin’s repeated references to nuclear arms have succeeded in suddenly putting the subject of bombs back into public consciousness after decades of assumptions that the atomic threat was of a bygone era, bounded by the detonation of the first nuclear bomb in 1945 and the seeming end of the Cold War in 1989. The Russian bellicosity followed a little-noticed decision by Belarus in December (that was approved last week) to change its constitution and allow Russia to deploy tactical nuclear weapons within the country, which borders Ukraine and also three NATO members—Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia....
Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “There is no other tool available in Putin’s hand to change this but to play with the fear of Europeans from nuclear war. But it’s a game of brinkmanship, nothing more.”
I mean come on, it is the 21st century,” she said. “How could there be such a thing?