The world has lived under the threat of all-out nuclear war for sixty years. At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union each had tens of thousands of nuclear warheads. Now the U.S. and Russia have under five thousand warheads each thanks to disarmament treaties.
Studies of the effects of nuclear detonations on the atmosphere have led to the idea of nuclear winter where there is so much smoke and dust in the atmosphere that sunlight is blocked, plants cannot grow and billions of people will die. It has been estimated that only one hundred nuclear warhead detonations would be enough to destroy human civilization. This means that seven nuclear armed countries could bring the end of humanity if they launched their nuclear arsenal.
The Bulletin on the Atomic Scientists has the Doomsday Clock which basically shows a graphic representation of the probability of World War III fought with nuclear weapons. For awhile after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was believed that the world could pull back from the possibility of nuclear war but recently, cooling relations between some nuclear power suggest that we are still in danger.
Evgeny Buzhinskiy, a former Lieutenant-General under the Soviet Union is now concerned that nuclear war is inevitable. Buzhinskiy was with Russia’s General Staff for sixteen years. He said that because Russia is “lagging behind” the U.S. in terms of military power, Putin would start using tactical nuclear weapons if Russia were losing a conventional ground war other nations. The use of tactical nuclear weapons could easily escalate into the use of strategic nuclear weapons. Because he believes that a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia is inevitable, he believes that the use of nuclear weapons is also inevitable. With the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime, the chances of conflict between the U.S. and Russia in the war-torn country are rising.
In an interview with a U.K. news presenter, Buzhinskiy said, “I think it’s worse than the Cold War, which we have been waging for 40 years after the Second World War. In the Cold War time I was in the armed forces and I was quite comfortable I’d say. There were definite duels and definite red lines – everybody knew what to do. There were no threats, no sanctions, no isolation, no cornering, no nothing. There was just ideological confrontation, but people on both sides knew how far they could go.”
When the new presenter asked if he was serious or just trying to scare people, Buzhinskiy said “I am scared myself, because I have children and grandchildren, so I’m scared for their fate.” He pointed out that there are thousands of Russian advisors in Syria and that, if any Russians die because of actions by U.S. forces, Russia will retaliate.
The Russian Foreign Minister said that relations between the U.S. and Russia are worse than the Cold War. He went on to say that the normal channels of communication between the U.S., the U.K., NATO and the European Union that were intended to prevent confrontation have been shut down.