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How Prepared Is Europe for a Nuclear War?

With the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, most European countries fear an escalation that could trigger a nuclear war .

nuclear war

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LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Qué tan preparada está Europa para una guerra nuclear?

Although both NATO and Russia have so far ruled out escalating the conflict in Ukraine into a nuclear war, a miscalculation by either side could trigger a direct conflict and the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons could come into play. According to official records, Russia has 1,588 nuclear warheads, of which 812 are on land-based ballistic missiles, 576 on submarines and 200 on airfields to be used for bombing. In these, there are also 977 not deployed, plus 1,912 technical warheads and 1,500 inactive.

The biggest weapon and threat that Russia possesses are the ICBM Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Russia has a wide variety of missiles with a range greater than 5,500 kilometers. This leaves the entire European continent at the mercy of ground-launched missiles. Additionally, with atomic submarines, the entire world, including the United States, can be targeted by nuclear missiles.

In addition, Russia recently tested its Satan II missile, considered the most powerful in the world. It has a range of close to 18,000 kilometers, which puts all of Europe and the United States within reach. Additionally, the newspaper El Español also detailed another 7 missiles that Russia can use for a military escalation with NATO, in addition to Satan II: Satan I; Zircon (able to fly at 9 times the speed of sound with a range of 1,000 kilometers); Bulava; Syneva; Topol-M; and the Iskander.

The distance between Russia and NATO countries is very short, which leaves several cities and population centers within range of medium-range missiles. For example, precisely, the Iskander missiles have a range of 400 kilometers. So any Iskander on Russian soil can hit cities like Kyiv, Warsaw, Tallinn, or Vilnius. Likewise, much of Russia, Poland, Finland, the eastern border of Germany, the Czech Republic, southern Sweden or northern Turkey. These missiles are difficult to track on radar. It is certain that Russia has sent Iskander missiles to its exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Belarus. In the past, the United States had deployed Aegis anti-missile system in Poland and Turkey, capable of countering ballistic missiles.

Also read:Infographics: What Is In the Ukrainian Territories Annexed by Russia?

However, Europe not only has the technology to protect itself from possible attacks from Russia, but there are several NATO member countries that have enough technology to respond to a nuclear aggression from Russia. For example, France has Terrible missiles that are launched from nuclear submarines, which would make it easier for it to hit urban centers in Russia, including St. Petersburg, Moscow, or the exclave of Kaliningrad.

Added to these are the Minuteman II and Trident I and II missiles, both from the United States. The first of 13,000 kilometers and the second of 12,000 range. Precisely, the United Kingdom also has Trident II that it carries in nuclear submarines, which will also be able to respond effectively.

But Europe considers its anti-missile protection insufficient. Precisely, a few weeks ago, numerous European members of NATO, led by the German chancellor, Olaf Scholtz, wanted to create a protection system against the Russian threat. According to what is known, this would be a model based on the Israeli Arrow 3 system that destroys missiles in flight. Although this initiative demonstrates the great concern that Europe has in the face of a possible nuclear threat, expert voices consider that this system will not be enough. According to Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk, the Arrow 3 is effective against short- and medium-range missiles, but inefficient against Russian supersonic missiles such as the Satan II or Zirkon.

Likewise, Europe has another anti-missile system supported by the United States. In Deveselu, Romania, and in Redzicovo, Poland, there are also SM-3 intercept batteries. Added to the radars in Turkey. Additionally, the United States has a series of protection ships around the Mediterranean.

Europe now also has a bunker system. Since the Cold War era, most European countries have prepared for a possible nuclear war. This is why the alarms against possible attacks and a bunker system is an extra protection that citizens have. However, most citizens do not know their location and many may even be abandoned or being used for other purposes.