Shortly after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his deterrent forces to be raised to “special” alert. The move alarmed leaders in the West that Moscow was ramping up preparations for a nuclear weapons launch. In recent weeks anxieties have been heightened further following direct threats by Kremlin backed media outlets towards Britain.
Dmitry Kiselyov, a key propagandist for President Putin, used his show on Russian state TV to warn the UK it could be “plunged into the sea” by an underwater nuclear strike.
He made the comments as part of a broadcast last Sunday where he suggested an attack on the UK, using a Poseidon underwater drone, could be a possible course of action for Russia.
Mr Kiselyov said the weapon would trigger a radioactive tidal wave and plunge Britain “to the depths of the ocean”.
He added: “This tidal wave is also a carrier of extremely high doses of radiation. Surging over Britain, it will turn whatever is left of them into radioactive desert, unusable for anything. How do you like this prospect?”
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Though the comments along with recent actions by President Putin are alarming, they don’t mean Russia intends to use any of its nuclear stockpile.
But if that stance changed and such a weapon was launched, where in the UK might it try to target?
According to data from Quora there are nine military facilities in Britain which Russia could obliterate within a matter of 20 minutes.
Of these six are Royal Air Force (RAF) bases, scattered mostly around central England, and three are naval bases which are dotted along the British coastline.
Hans M Kristensen and Matt Korda, writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “Of the stockpiled warheads, approximately 1,588 strategic warheads are deployed: about 812 on land-based ballistic missiles, about 576 on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and possibly 200 at heavy bomber bases.”
Though nuclear weapons have yet to be used during the war in Ukraine, Russia has been accused of employing chemical weapons.
Last month, Ukraine’s Azov regiment said three soldiers were injured by “a poisonous substance” in the port city of Mariupol.
No evidence has yet been provided to confirm their use, but the allegation drew concerns from the US and Britain.