What is Russia’s nuclear arsenal?

What is Russia's nuclear arsenal?  - Photo 1.

An intercontinental ballistic missile was tested in Russia in 2019 – Photo: ZUMA PRESS

On September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that he was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend his country when he vowed to “use all available means to combat the threat to the territorial integrity of the country.” mine”.

Putin’s statement provoked a strong reaction from US President Joe Biden and leaders of America’s allies. Mr Biden accused Russia of being “irresponsible” for issuing warnings about the use of nuclear weapons. The US leader said that a nuclear war will be a war that will not be won and should never be started.

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Russia currently has a total of 5,977 nuclear warheads, the most in the world. Of these, about 1,500 warheads are no longer in service.

Meanwhile, the US has 5,428 nuclear warheads, France has 290 and the UK has 225. FAS says about 90% of all nuclear warheads in the world are owned by Russia and the US.

In the case of Russia, of the approximately 4,500 usable nuclear warheads, most are considered “strategic”.

Russia has invested in various weapons to use these warheads. These include ground-launched ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland, submarine-launched missiles, and aircraft-deployed missiles.

What is Russia's nuclear arsenal?  - Photo 2.

Ballistic missiles of Russia during the Victory Day parade on Red Square in Moscow in May 2021 – Photo: AP

Experts estimate that about 1,500 Russian warheads are “deployed”, that is, they are being installed at missile bases, on bombers or on submarines. Along with that, “about 977 strategic warheads and 1,912 non-strategic (or tactical) warheads” are in reserve, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS). .

However, according to Sky News, experts say it is still difficult to know the exact number of nuclear warheads and weapons of Russia.

According to the Washington Post, since 2000, Russia’s publicly shared military doctrine has allowed it to use nuclear weapons “in response to a large-scale aggression using such weapons.” normally, in particular in situations important to the national security of the Russian Federation”.

Russia’s strategy – known as “escalating to de-escalate” – includes the ability to use tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield to change the course of a conventional conflict in which forces Russia is in danger of losing.

Currently, military experts are still analyzing the possibility that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict, like the one in Ukraine. President Biden warned Putin not to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Tactical nuclear weapons are weapons designed for use on the battlefield, are smaller in design and used at short distances, different from strategic nuclear weapons, which are used to attack targets. strategic targets at long distances.

Tactical nuclear weapons include gravity bombs, short-range missiles, artillery shells, mines, torpedoes, etc., which are equipped with nuclear warheads.

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