An independent analyst based in Geneva has suggested that “we are at least a few steps away” from a nuclear attack.
Pavel Podvig shared his insight to try to avoid widespread panic after Vladimir Putin said last week that he is “not bluffing” that he will use nuclear weapons.
The analyst said it is of course “understandable” that many in the West and Europe are worried, but he detailed the procedural steps that would have to be taken.
Podvig said, “First, the US keeps telling us that there are no signs of Russia’s being prepared to use its weapons. But would they see them? I would say, most likely,” he says.
“With the exception of ICBMs and SLBMs, none of nuclear weapons are ‘deployed’ – bombs are not loaded on aircraft, warheads are not mated to missiles.
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“There are no Iskanders roaming around with nuclear-armed warheads. These weapons are in storage.
“They may not be very far from airbases (a few kilometres) or from missile bases (a few hours drive), but they are in bunkers. Yes, there is a procedure for deploying them, but it’s a procedure.
“You have to take weapons out of the bunker, load them on trucks, drive them to the designated point, load them/mate warheads.
“As any process, it is visible. The US/NATO observed it during many exercises.”
The Geneva based analyst added there is “absolutely no reason for Russia to hide” these developments.
“If the idea is to send a signal that you are ready to escalate… you send the signal.
“You would want it to be visible.”
However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the United Nation General Assembly last week that any region which is annexed by Moscow will come “under full protection,” meaning an attack on those areas is an attack on Russian soil.
Lavrov was asked at the conference if Russia has grounds to use nuclear weapons to defend the annexed regions.
The Russian Foreign Minister said that all territory will be “further enshrined” into their constitution.
Lavrov told the UN assembly, “All of the laws, doctrines, concepts and strategies of the Russian Federation apply to all of its territory,” referring specifically to the doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons.
On Tuesday evening Moscow claimed that Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia had all voted to join the Russian Federation whereby they will be protected by Moscow.