Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the use of nuclear weapons in a televised Wednesday address. The Russian president accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and warned the U.S. and Europe that Russia has “various means of destruction,” according to The New York Times.
How real is Putin’s nuclear threat?
In his speech threatening the use of nuclear weapons, Putin stated that his words were “not a bluff.” According to the BBC, analysts suggest this should be taken as a warning to other countries to not increase their involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war.
However, there are also serious repercussions if Putin decides to authorize a nuclear strike. Forbes reported that a nuclear strike will “solidify opposition.” Neutral countries would turn against Russia and risk the alliance with China.
How likely is a nuclear attack from Russia?
Patricia Lewis, Chatham House international security program director, told the Independent that a nuclear attack from Russia is believed to be a last resort, but it is still a threatening prospect.
According to The Guardian, Putin is ready to escalate to the point of nuclear attack to exert his will over Ukraine and protect his own legacy. The last few months of attack have shown Putin’s willingness to take risks and escalate the war.
Putin’s threat is still in question, but shouldn’t be taken lightly.
How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?
Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads, roughly 1,500 of which are retired, while the remaining are strategic weapons, according to the BBC. Russia has the most nuclear weapons in the world, with the United States coming in second.