The science behind the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

The science behind the earthquake that shook Southern New England

Did you feel it? At 9:10 am EST Sunday morning, a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck just south of Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, which is a census-designated place in Dartmouth. If you felt it, report it!

While minor earthquakes do happen from time to time in New England, tremors that are felt by a large number of people and that cause damage are rare.

Earthquake Report

The earthquake was originally measured as a magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Surgey (USGS) before changing to a 3.6.

Earthquakes in New England and most places east of the Rocky Mountains are much different than the ones that occur along well-known fault lines in California and along the West Coast.

Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts fall nearly in the center of the North American Plate, one of 15 (seven primary, eight secondary) that cover the Earth.

Earth’s tectonic plates

Tectonic plates move ever-so-slowly, and as they either push into each other, pull apart, or slide side-by-side, earthquakes are possible within the bedrock, usually miles deep.

Most of New England’s and Long Island’s bedrock was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent 500-300 million years ago, raising the northern Appalachian Mountains.

Plate tectonics (Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.

While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.

USGS Community Internet Intensity Map

While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.

According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.

The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston.

The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.

The Russian Horn Will Use Nukes: Revelation 16

Vadym Skibitsky

Probability of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons is ‘very high’, says Ukraine intel chief as Putin raises the stakes with annexation


September 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM MDT

Representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Defense Ministry of Ukraine Vadym Skibitsky says Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

Fears of nuclear war are mounting across the West as Russia mobilizes hundreds of thousands of troops and prepares to annex four regions in southeastern Ukraine.


Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to sign treaties to take 15% of Ukrainian territory and make a speech at a ceremony in the Kremlin today, after Moscow-installed administrations staged referendum votes in Ukraine’s regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

The Kremlin claimed that all of the regions overwhelmingly voted to back annexation (by 99%, 98%, 93%, and 87% respectively).

Western condemnation

Countries across the world have condemned the vote, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying today that the U.S. will “never, never, never” recognize Russia’s attempt to annex the regions of Ukraine.

The EU similarly denounced the vote last week. The bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles called the vote “illegal” and “another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systemic abuses of human rights.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday said Russian forces would be met with a “tough” military response, telling outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi on the phone that “the territorial integrity of Ukraine will be restored. And our reaction to Russia’s recognition of their results will be very harsh.”

Nuclear threat rising

But as Ukraine arms itself once again to fight against the incoming troops, the threat of nuclear war is increasing too.

And an embittered Putin, losing on the battlefield, may look to strike the region he claims to be liberating with tactical nuclear weapons, according to a Ukrainian defense official.  

Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy intelligence chief told the Guardian that Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

“[Russian military] will likely target places along the frontlines with lots of [army] personal and equipment, key command centers, and critical infrastructure,” Skibitsky said regarding Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

“Everything will depend on how the situation develops on the battlefield,” he said.

The nuclear weapon Russia may be planning to use is about 100 times more powerful than the type of rockets it has used against Ukraine so far, Skibitsky added.

How would the world respond?

Russia has lost as many as 80,000 troops to death or injury, by Western estimates, and has been forced to scrap its upper age limit of 40 for contractual service in the army.

As protests erupted across Moscow and St Petersburg last week and military-aged men fled to the border to avoid mobilization, Putin ramped up his rhetoric on nuclear war.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in a recorded note, in reference to Moscow’s sizable nuclear arsenal.

“It’s not a bluff,” he added.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday that the nuclear warnings are “a matter that we have to take deadly seriously.”

He noted that the U.S. has communicated directly with the Kremlin “that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the United States and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” he said.

The move would also attract an immense retaliation from NATO.

Russia’s annexation puts world ‘two or three steps away’ from nuclear war

By Liz Sly

October 1, 2022 at 3:00 a.m. EDT

LONDON — President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of the annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine signals the onset of a new and highly dangerous phase in the seven-month old war, one that Western officials and analysts fear could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons for the first time in 77 years.

Putin has previously threatened to resort to nuclear weapons if Russia’s goals in Ukraine continue to be thwarted. The annexation brings the use of a nuclear weapon a step closer by giving Putin a potential justification on the grounds that “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened,” as he put it in his speech last week.

He renewed the threat on Friday with an ominous comment that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a “precedent” for the use of nuclear weapons, echoing references he has made in the past to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as setting a precedent for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and Western officials say they still think it unlikely that Putin will carry out his threats. Most probably, they say, he is hoping to deter the West from providing ever more sophisticated military assistance to Ukraine while the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops allows Russia to reverse or at least halt its military setbacks on the battlefield.

But the threats appear only to have strengthened Western resolve to continue sending weapons to Ukraine and the Ukrainian military is continuing to advance into Russian-occupied territory. Even as Putin was announcing the annexation in Moscow on Friday and newly conscripted Russian troops were arriving in Ukraine, Ukrainian troops were in the process of encircling Russian soldiers in the eastern city of Lyman, extending their reach from their recent advances in Kharkiv into the newly annexed region of Donetsk.

In all four regions that Putin said he was annexing — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — Russia only controls part of the territory.

Now that the areas being fought over are regarded by Moscow as Russian, it is possible to chart a course of events toward the first use of a nuclear weapon since the 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.

“It’s a low probability event, but it is the most serious case of nuclear brinkmanship since the 1980s” when the Cold War ended, said Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It is a very dangerous situation and it needs to be taken seriously by Western policymakers.”

U.S. and European officials say they are taking the threats seriously. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that there would be “catastrophic consequences” if Russia resorts to the use of nuclear weapons. He refused to specify what those would be but said the precise consequences had been spelled out privately to Russian officials “at very high levels.”

“They well understand what they would face if they went down that dark road,” he said.

European officials say the threats have only strengthened their resolve to support Ukraine.

“No one knows what Putin will decide to do, no one,” said a European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject. “But he’s totally in a corner, he’s crazy … and for himy there is no way out. The only way out for him is total victory or total defeat and we are working on the latter one. We need Ukraine to win and so we are working to prevent worst case scenarios by helping Ukraine win.”

The goal, the official said, is to give Ukraine the military support it needs to continue to push Russia out of Ukrainian territory, while pressuring Russia politically to agree to a cease-fire and withdrawal, the official said.

And the pressure is working, “slowly,” the official said, to spread awareness in Russia and internationally that the invasion was a mistake. India, which had seemed to side with Russia in the earliest days of the war, has expressed alarm at Putin’s talk of nuclear war and China, ostensibly Russia’s most important ally, has signaled that it is growing uneasy with Putin’s continuing escalations.

But the annexation and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of extra troops have also served as a reminder that the Western strategy hasn’t yet worked enough to convince Putin that he can’t win, said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was based in Moscow until earlier this year.

The West had been hoping that Ukrainian successes would force Putin to back down, but instead he is doubling down. “Time and again we are seeing that Vladimir Putin sees this as a big existential war and he’s ready to up the stakes if he is losing on the battlefield,” Gabuev said.

“At the same time I don’t think the West will back down, so it’s a very hard challenge now. We are two or three steps away” from Russia failing to achieve its goals and resorting to what was once unthinkable.

Those steps to secure its positions include Russia pushing hundreds of thousands more men onto the battlefield; escalating attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine; and perhaps also embarking on covert attacks on Western infrastructure.

Although the United States and its European allies have refrained from making direct accusations, few doubt that Russia was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, said the E.U. official.

“I don’t think anyone has doubts. It’s the handwriting of the Kremlin,” he said. “It’s an indication of, ‘look what is coming, look what we are able to do.’ ”

Nuclear weapons would only likely be used after mobilization, sabotage and other measures have failed to turn the tide, and it’s unclear what Putin would achieve by using them, Gady said.

Despite some wild predictions on Russian news shows that the Kremlin would lash out at a Western capital, with London appearing to be a favored target, it is more likely that Moscow would seek to use one of its smaller, tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield to try to gain advantage over Ukrainian forces, said Gady.

The smallest nuclear weapon in the Russian arsenal delivers an explosion of around 1 kiloton, one fifteenth of the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which would inflict massive destruction but on a more limited area.

Because the war is being fought along a vast, 1,500-mile front line, troops are too thinly spread out for there to be an obvious target whose obliteration would change the course of the war. To make a difference, Russia would have to use several nuclear weapons or alternatively strike a major population center such as Kyiv, either of which would represent a massive escalation, trigger almost certain Western retaliation and turn Russia into a pariah state even with its allies, Gady said.

“From a purely military perspective, nuclear weapons would not solve any of Vladimir Putin’s military problems,” he said. “To change the operational picture one single attack would not be enough and it would also not intimidate Ukraine into surrendering territory. It would cause the opposite, it would double down Western support and I do think there would be a U.S. response.”

That’s why many believe Putin won’t carry out his threats. “Even though Putin is dangerous, he is not suicidal, and those around him aren’t suicidal,” said Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Pentagon officials have said they have seen no actions by Russia that would lead the United States to adjust its nuclear posture.

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Obama Deal

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Nuclear Talks

Friday, 09/30/20223 minutes

Iran SanctionsIran Nuclear

Author: Mardo Soghom

After reports that nuclear talks with Iran have ended, Washington tightened the screws by sanctioning several foreign companies involved in oil trade with Tehran.

Critics have been accusing the Biden administration of not seriously implementing sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, while negotiating with Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, the JCPOA. They argue that a substantial increase in Iranian oil exports to China occurred when President Joe Biden assumed office. This in turn made Iran more intransigent in nuclear talks that began in April 2021.

The latest warning came on September 23 from an advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), opposed to the revival of the JCPOA. In a report UANI argued that since President Joe Biden’s election, China has bought around $38 billion of crude oil from Iran in violation of US third-party sanctions.

The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on September 28 evaded a question from Iran International during his daily briefing about the UANI report.

“I think what we can say with some confidence is that some of the open-source statistics have been inflated, and that is the case when it comes to certain reports of Iranian oil exports to the PRC,” Price said when he was asked about the administration’s response to the UANI report.

But the shipment of at least 750,000 barrels of crude per day to China has been reported by industry sources, news agencies and experts since early 2021, which triggered the warnings by critics of the administration’s Iran policy. Although prices Iran charges small Chinese refineries is a secret and it is reported that discounts are offered, Iran must have earned close to $30 billion in this period by shipping 350-400 million barrels of crude to China.

Although this is far below the heyday of Iran’s $100 billion annual oil export earnings around 2010, but it was sufficient to convince Tehran that it can weather the economic pressure while negotiating with the Biden administration.

Now, the Biden administration is left with no discernible Iran policy except tightening enforcement of sanctions, the same ‘maximum pressure’ strategy Trump was using when he lost the 2020 election.

In addition, a popular revolt against the clerical regime in Tehran has exposed the degree to which the rulers are willing to use violence against their own citizens, forcing the Biden team to impose new human rights sanctions.

The protests were triggered by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman who received fatal blows to her head while being arrested for “inappropriate hijab”. Both her killing and the ensuing protests have generated a high level of international support for the people in Iran, which can be a double nail in the coffin of the JCPOA talks.

A renewed deal would have released tens of billion of dollars for the Islamic Republic and in the current atmosphere of human rights violations by Tehran, signing a nuclear agreement that would lift sanctions and enrich the government, seems improbable.

The Biden administration has apparently reached the conclusion that Iran does not want a nuclear agreement, which would mean that the way it tried to revive the JCPOA simply allowed Iran to sell more oil and greatly advance its nuclear program. It calculated that maybe it can reach the nuclear weapons threshold and have enough income to survive.

Why Putin will soon have to nuke Ukraine: Revelation 16

Russia Ukraine War Nuclear Threats Explainer

Why Putin will soon have to choose between losing in Ukraine or using nuclear weapons

September 29, 2022 01:55 PM

Tom Rogan, National Security Writer & Online Editor

Ukraine has both the political and popular resolve to liberate its territory. Thanks to the United States, Britain, Poland, mand the Baltic states , Kyiv also has the economic and military means to believe it can achieve its ambition. In contrast, it is increasingly clear that Russia lacks the popular resolve to endure a bloody war. Equally important, Russia lacks the economic and military means to conduct a drawn-out war.

In the coming months, Vladimir Putin will thus be forced into one of two choices. He can end the war by ceding back those areas of Ukraine that his forces occupy. (Ukraine might allow Putin to keep at least some of Crimea under any ceasefire agreement.) Alternatively, Putin can escalate by using nuclear weapons in an attempt to end continued Western support for Kyiv and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into a Russian-favorable ceasefire.

What Putin cannot do, however, is continue to wage war in a conventional fashion.

Top line: Putin’s draft of at least 300,000 conscripts — possibly to rise to more than 1 million — cannot reverse his recent record of battlefield losses. That’s because those losses are not the result of manpower shortages per se, though that is a factor. Rather, Putin’s central problem is that his military lacks credible leadership and professionalism and is beset by low morale and terrible logistics . The scale of this challenge is underlined by the inability of Russian forces to conduct even orderly ground retreats, let alone combined arms offensives. As in eastern Ukraine, this has opened Russian lines to high-mobility Ukrainian flanking attacks, which enable Ukraine to retake vast areas of territory while forcing rolling Russian surrenders and abandonment of priceless equipment.

Putin’s logistics problem is only set to grow. Russia, after all, is rapidly depleting its stocks of artillery, missiles, bombs, and other weapons. This is to say nothing of the thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, electronic warfare vehicles, air defense systems, and aircraft that Ukraine has captured or destroyed. The Kremlin is desperately attempting to hide this military supply chain crisis, but Western intelligence services are convinced that it is critical. Indeed, one need only look at leaked videos on social media that show Russian conscripts issued archaic rifles being told to bring their own sleeping bags to war. One need only look at the increasingly desperate calls by top Kremlin officials to bolster military production. One need only look at the increasingly ludicrous, if escalatory, rhetoric on Russian state media.

Furthermore, there is Russia’s economy. Sanctions and the voluntary dislocation of foreign investors have smashed Russia’s economic foundations. Putin’s oligarchs are retreating at home and abroad, transitioning from London fine dining to variable window jumping. Russia’s energy, finance, and export industries are in crisis. Inflation remains higher than in the U.S., the importation of high-value goods is increasingly difficult, and structural inefficiencies such as weak infrastructure and corruption are only worsening. Europe is gradually weaning itself off Russian gas and oil, although Viktor Orban’s support , a new Italian government skeptical of sanctions, and the approaching European winter offer Putin a shot at dividing the West.

All of this means that Russia has reached or will soon reach a point where it can no longer launch major combined arms offensives. And those offensives are the only military means by which Russia can restrain Ukraine’s battlefield momentum and eventually win this war. Putin’s only conventional military alternative is to use his new conscripts as cannon fodder, forcing Ukraine to spread its forces thin and expend resources managing operations across a vast front — except the Russian people do not see the war in Ukraine as their president would have them see it. That is to say, as an heir to the existential “Great Patriotic War” against the Nazis, a war deserving of selfless sacrifice. Many Russians still support Putin’s presidency , but far fewer want to fight in Ukraine.

Take the widespread protests against mobilization. Evincing its growing concern, the Kremlin has issued rare apologies for mistakes made during the draft’s rollout. A growing number of middle-class professions are also being granted exemptions from service. But that poses its own Catch-22: increasing pressure on Russia’s rural hinterland and ethnic minority populations to make up the manpower difference. As the nonprofessional soldiers’ body bags start coming home, the Kremlin risks new political instability in its far-flung oblasts (an enduring cause for Kremlin paranoia).

This leaves Putin with his literal nuclear option: launching an unprecedented strike on Ukraine to regain the strategic initiative. Russian nuclear doctrine and Putin’s unavoidably personal-political link to this war mean that such a strike cannot be ruled out. Certainly, Russia’s formal absorption of Ukrainian territory, as effected via fixed referenda this week, is partly designed to provide political justification for the “defensive” use of nuclear weapons. But it’s not that simple. Using nuclear weapons would mean near-total global isolation and suffocating sanctions (for one example, China would likely break with Russia in fear of losing any influence with Europe ). Putin must also contemplate possible direct Western military intervention as the cost of a nuclear attack — but with the attack offering no appreciable battlefield shift to Russia’s favor. And Putin’s generals might reject such an order , instead deposing their commander in chief.

Put another way, Putin has a problem.

Turmoil in Baghdad as rockets hit Green Zone, Antichrist’s men take to streets in ‘warning’ to rivals

Sadrist demonstrators clash with security force during an anti-government protest, after a parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq September 28, 2022. (Reuters)

Turmoil in Baghdad as rockets hit Green Zone, Sadrists take to streets in ‘warning’ to rivals

Analysts say the virulent reactions of the Sadrist movement were predictable as it was unlikely that Sadr would accept a political process that could lead to his political isolation.

Thursday 29/09/2022

Sadrist demonstrators clash with security force during an anti-government protest, after a parliament session, in Baghdad, Iraq September 28, 2022. (Reuters)


Four rockets fired from eastern Baghdad on Thursday landed around the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, police said, as political unrest intensified and Sadrists took part in violent demonstrations in a “warning” to rivals.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the rocket strikes and no claim of responsibility. Several Shia militant groups have offices and supporters in eastern Baghdad.

A similar rocket attack on Wednesday wounded seven members of the Iraqi security forces in the Green Zone and appeared to add a new dimension to a contest among feuding politicians.

Rocket strikes on the Green Zone have been regular in recent years but they are usually directed at Western targets by Iran-backed militia groups.

The Sadrist movement quickly distanced itself from the rocket attacks and Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi, who is known on social media as “Sadr’s minister,” accused hostile parties which want to undermine Sadrist “reform” moves of being behind the strikes.

He said on Twitter, “We categorically reject the use of violence and weapons carried out by unknown parties, by bombing the Green Zone, as they seek to cause sedition in our beloved Iraq.”

The bombings coincided with hundreds of supporters of the movement swarming central Baghdad. “Sadr’s minister” had threatened earlier on Wednesday to take to the streets if the political forces attempted to impose what he called a “corruption deal.”

Analysts believe that the warnings from Sadr’s informal spokesman are directed mainly at “the State Administration Coalition” project, which brings together the Coordination Framework, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Sunni Sovereignty Coalition and the Christian Babylon bloc.

This coalition, currently being forged, aims to overcome the current political impasse and complete the constitutionally ordained tasks of electing the president of the republic and forming a new government, but the Sadrist movement believes that this coalition aims primarily to sideline it from the political scene.

Analysts say the virulent reactions of the Sadrist movement were predictable as it was unlikely that Sadr would accept a political process that could lead to his political isolation.

They add that Sadr’s street escalation on Wednesday should be seen as a warning as political events unfold.

A boy poses for a picture amid clashes between supporters of Moqtada Sadr and Iraqi security forces in Tahrir Square in the centre of Iraq's capital Baghdad September 28, 2022. (AFP)

A boy poses for a picture amid clashes between supporters of Moqtada Sadr and Iraqi security forces in Tahrir Square in the centre of Iraq’s capital Baghdad September 28, 2022. (AFP)

Three Katyusha rockets landed in the fortified zone on Wednesday while Iraq’s MPs voted to reject the resignation of Halbousi.

The office of caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a statement that security forces were pursuing the assailants who fired the rockets and asked protesters to remain peaceful.

Security forces blocked bridges to the central Green Zone and imposed a curfew on buses, motorcycles and trucks.

Another rocket later fell near the Green Zone, where parliament and many government offices and foreign embassies are located, security sources said. There were no casualties.

Despite the tight restrictions, dozens of supporters of the populist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which lies outside the Green Zone, to protest against the parliamentary session.

Witnesses said around a dozen were seen throwing stones at security forces.

Sadr emerged as the biggest winner from an election last October but ordered his parliamentarians to withdraw after failing to form a coalition government after months of political deadlock. The Sadrists have called for fresh elections.

Halbousi was originally elected speaker by parliamentarians backed by Sadr. Al-Sadr’s 73 lawmakers resigned last June to protest the political deadlock.

Halbousi, a Sunni Muslim politician who originally backed Sadr’s efforts, has broken rank with him, arguing that efforts should continue to form a government with other factions.

Earlier this year Halbousi’s Taqaddum party and other Sunni Muslim Arab and Kurdish factions supported Sadr’s efforts to form a government that would exclude rival Iran-backed Shia Muslim groups.

However, they did not follow suit when Sadr withdrew from parliament and have instead considered entering a ruling alliance with the Iran-backed parties, according to officials on all sides of the political divide.

A large majority of parliamentarians voted on Wednesday rejecting Halbousi’s resignation, effectively endorsing his continuation in office.

The leader of a militia loyal to Sadr censured Wednesday’s rocket attacks “We condemn and denounce the shelling of the Green Zone today and we stress the constitutional right to protest,” Peace Brigades commander Abu Mustafa al-Hamidawi said.

Here’s What Will Happen When Putin Orders A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Putin Views Russian Arms On Display At Expo
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons in defense of Russian … [+]GETTY IMAGES

Here’s What Would Happen If Putin Ordered A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Robert Hart

Sep 30, 2022,08:36am EDT


Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four occupied Ukrainian regions on Friday and has vowed to defend Russian territory by any means necessary, including using nuclear weapons, a drastic escalation that has sparked global outrage and ignited fears of a potential nuclear war.


While it’s hard to predict the specific details of a Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine, experts told Forbes that Moscow would most likely deploy tactical nuclear weapons— short-range devices designed for use on the battlefield—against troops or to destroy a logistics hub.

Tactical nuclear weapons are much smaller than the strategic long-range warheads designed to destroy cities, but power is relative—the largest tactical weapons can be as big as 100 kilotons (1 kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT)—the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons—and Dr. Rod Thornton, a security expert at King’s College London, told Forbes they can still be devastating.

Putin would be highly unlikely to target a Ukrainian city in an initial strike and would possibly avoid casualties altogether, Thornton said, explaining that a nuclear attack would mostly be a symbolic “signaling device” for Moscow to show it is serious and is willing to defend itself.

Predicting possible targets is difficult, Thornton said, though he floated Snake Island, a Black Sea outpost taken by Russia early in the war that has since been retaken and become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, as one Putin could have in mind.

The impact of a nuclear strike depends a lot on what type of weapon is used, how and where it is used and the conditions at the time, but even a low yield nuclear bomb could have far-reaching consequences, with radiation from the blast causing long-term health problems for survivors and radioactive fallout contaminating the environment and possibly drifting across Europe and Asia.

Radioactive fallout is a poor way to make the kind of statement Russia would want to make and could possibly backfire by drifting over Russia or unite people or nations against them, Thornton said, adding that Moscow would probably use a weapon designed to minimize fallout.

“On many fronts, Putin is under pressure,” Thornton told Forbes, pointing to losses in Ukraine, protests at home over mobilization and continued international opposition. “The more desperate Putin becomes, the more he’s pushed on the back foot, the more likely it becomes that a nuclear weapon is used,” he added. Choosing to use a nuclear weapon could pose new problems for Putin at home, Thornton said, and possibly spark opposition from the military or other key figures unwilling to escalate matters and possibly push NATO into directly supporting Ukraine.


Putin formally annexed four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine on Friday. The Kremlin says Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia backed joining Russia in a string of referendums held this week. The votes were widely viewed as a clear pretext for annexation and they have been widely denounced as an illegitimate “sham”, including by long standing allies of Moscow like Kazakhstan. UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday condemned Putin’s plans to annex the regions as a flagrant violation of international law and a “dangerous escalation.” The move follows Putin’s decision to order an immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian forces last week to shore up the flagging invasion, which triggered angry protests across the country and an exodus of people fleeing to neighboring countries to escape possible conscription. Putin said Moscow would defend its territory—which it says now includes the annexed regions—using all means at its disposal, including with nuclear weapons. Though he has threatened the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine many times before, Putin insisted he was not bluffing and other nations are treating the threat seriously.


Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and now the deputy chair of the country’s security council, has said the U.S. and its NATO allies are too afraid of a “nuclear apocalypse” to directly intervene in Ukraine, even if Moscow used nuclear weapons. It’s not clear how the rest of the world might respond. Putin’s comments have prompted India and China to break their long silence on the war in Ukraine and voice concern. NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned of “severe consequences” for Russia if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, echoing private warnings of “catastrophic consequences” from Washington. A retaliatory nuclear strike is possible but would mark a dramatic and dangerous escalation. More likely is a “devastating” NATO response using conventional weapons, said Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s foreign minister.


A Russian nuclear attack would be unlikely to take the West completely by surprise, Thornton told Forbes. There would probably be a lot of “background noise” and “signals chatter” between various government and defense agencies that would be picked up by Western listening stations if Russia was planning to go nuclear, he explained. If the West did pick up on signals pointing towards a nuclear attack, Thornton said there would be a “massive increase in the diplomatic pressure put on Russia” to change course. There would also be significant diplomatic pressure on countries like China and India to take a stronger stance against Russia, he added, which could have more sway given Moscow’s reliance on them for energy exports.


5,977. That’s how many nuclear warheads Russia has, according to an estimate by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Around 1,500 are retired and due to be dismantled, the organization says. Most of the remaining warheads are strategic—larger weapons that can be used over long distances—and the rest are smaller tactical weapons. Russia is believed to have more nuclear weapons than any other country. It is followed by the U.S., which has an estimated 5,428 warheads, according to FAS, and the two together have approximately 90% of all nuclear warheads. Seven other countries are known or widely believed to possess nuclear weapons: China (350), France (290), the U.K. (225), Pakistan (165), India (160), Israel (90) and North Korea (20).