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April 7, 2015

Russia's Nuclear Saber And World's A-bomb Inventory

As we’ve noted on a number of occasions recently, Moscow isn’t prone to backing down when it comes to exchanging geopolitical threats. In fact, the Kremlin seems intent on ratcheting up the rhetoric in the face of what many perceive to be Western aggression in the form of NATO military exercises along the Russian border. Of course Washinton isn't exactly helping the stituation by voting to arm Kiev with offensive military capabilities, and recent geopolitical events certainly seem to indicate that if anyone is isolated on the world stage, it's Washington, not Moscow.
Meanwhile, as the following from the WSJ shows, Russia is intent on "rattling the nuclear sabre":
It wasn’t an ordinary Valentine’s Day for the students from across Russia arriving at a military institute outside Moscow. Their date was with a Topol, the intercontinental ballistic missile at the heart of the country’s nuclear arsenal. 
The new event was part of an initiative to promote careers in Russia’s missile forces, and it also reflected another phenomenon: the rising boastfulness about nuclear weaponry in public life here. 
Amid the wave of bellicose rhetoric that has swelled in Moscow since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, officials as high up as President Vladimir Putin have been making open nuclear threats, a public saber-rattling with weapons of mass destruction largely unseen even in the days of the Cold War. 
Remarks about Russia’s nuclear strength play well to Mr. Putin’s domestic constituency, hungry for a restoration of lost military might. 
They also come at a time when Russia has grown more reliant on nuclear weapons, as the imbalance with Western conventional forces has widened.During the Cold War, Warsaw Pact conventional forces outnumbered NATO’s in Europe, leading the West to depend heavily on its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent... 
In 1995, President Boris Yeltsin was handed the Russian equivalent of the “nuclear football”—the satchel carrying launch codes that follows the U.S. president—after Russian officials suspected a rocket launched from Norway to study the aurora borealis was in fact a U.S. ballistic missile. A tap of the buttons would have launched a nuclear strike.
“We know, historically, that as crazy as it seems, one thing led to another,” said Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “Just because it would be nuts, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”
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We trust cooler heads will prevail, but in a world dominated by failed foreign and monetary policies on the part of the US and other Western powers, it's difficult to ignore the following graphic which outlines who controls the world's nuclear power:

Courtesy Tyler Durden, founder of ZeorHedge (EconMatters author archive here

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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Item Reviewed: Russia's Nuclear Saber And World's A-bomb Inventory Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Econ Matters