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Nuclear Weapons in Russia’s Hands: Everything You Need to Know

In recent years, the Putin government has ensured the modernization of its nuclear weapons. Learn about the Russian arsenal that jeopardizes the world.

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Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine and now threatens the world with activating its nuclear weapons. Putin put his nuclear deterrent forces on “special duty status” after describing statements by major NATO countries as “aggressive.”

Putin considers it belligerent for countries of the world to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calls it a “threat” that Europe and the West are joining forces to send weapons to the Ukrainian army. However, while the Russian president is threatening the world, he is committing genocide in Ukraine.

Russia took control of the arms of other former Soviet republics, including Ukraine and Belarus, in the 1990s. Now it has invaded Ukraine, and Belarus, which is allied with Moscow, plans to give up its non-nuclear status, which would allow Russia to bring nuclear weapons to that country.

“Anyone who tries to interfere with us, or even more, to create threats to our country and our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead to consequences such as it has never experienced in its history,” Putin said in an ominous tone.

Russia has launched around 200 missiles since the start of the attack, according to U.S. Defense Department sources, and is also the country with the largest number of nuclear warheads in the world.

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In recent years, Putin’s government has ensured the modernization of its nuclear weaponry. Nevertheless, the question remains as to what Russia’s true nuclear capability is and whether Putin would really be willing to activate the “red button.”

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC that so far the UK has not seen any change in Russia’s nuclear weapons.

Operational warheads

A nuclear warhead is a weapon of mass destruction that is part of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The countries that possess nuclear warheads are the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, and Israel.



Nuclear weapons are designed to cause maximum devastation. The extent of destruction depends on a variety of factors, ranging from the size of the warhead, height off the ground, and the local environment.

After a blinding flash, there is a huge fireball and a shock wave that can destroy buildings and structures for several kilometers around.

The number of nuclear warheads in Russian hands is not exact. In fact, some claim it has just under 6,000, while others claim it exceeds that number.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Russia currently has 5,977 nuclear warheads of which 1,500 are pending dismantlement and 4,477 are still available for use and could be directed to long distances.


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states Russia has a total of 6,257 nuclear warheads, of which 800 would be ready.

The Federation of American Scientists explains the United States has some 5,500 nuclear weapons, while Russia has some 6,000. Both countries account for 90% of the nuclear weapons on the planet.

Most of these warheads in both countries are not deployed on missiles or bases. According to an assessment by the Arms Control Association, in terms of deployed nuclear warheads: Russia has 1,458 warheads on 527 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and bombers.

nuclear weapons

“If the U.S. and Russia were to launch everything that they had, it could potentially be a civilization-ending event,” Dr. Tara Drozdenko, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program, told Business Insider.

Jesus Argumosa, an analyst of strategic studies and international relations told NIUS Diario that “the advantage of the Russians and the Chinese is that in supersonic missiles, the speed is much higher, five or six times more than the speed of sound. And this, the West does not have yet.”

“Activating the procedure to launch a missile is a matter of minutes. When it is already out, an intercontinental missile could take half an hour to three quarters of an hour to reach the target, and those closer to Europe, even less,” he explained.

“It depends on the type of nuclear warhead it carries, but it could cause thousands of deaths. With Russia having intercontinental missiles, with 10,000 kilometers of range, they could go to many places in the world,” Argumosa concluded.

Nuclear submarines

Putin’s order to put his nuclear forces on alert also activated the mobilization of nuclear submarines in the Barents Sea and of missile launching vehicles that are currently roaming Siberia.

El Español reports that these submarines are based in Gadzhiyevo, one of the most important centers of operations of the Russian Northern Fleet, located only 100 kilometers east of the border with Norway and Finland.

nuclear weapons

Russia’s reasons for pushing the red button

According to the BBC, Russian policy recognizes nuclear weapons only as a deterrent and lists four cases for their use:

1) In case of the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation or its allies.

2) The foreign use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction against the Russian Federation or its allies.

3) An attack on critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation that threatens its nuclear capability.

4) An aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in danger.

So far, no nation has dared to attack Russia, despite the invasion of Ukraine which has resulted in the murder of hundreds of civilians and military personnel.

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