Russia could destroy the whole of Britain in a matter of minutes using a single intercontinental Sarmat rocket, also referred to as “Satan 2”, Russian parliamentarian Yuri Shvijtkin claimed in a recent television interview.
“Finland and Sweden’s possible accession to NATO, and the fact that the NATO bloc is approaching our borders, can bring us one step closer to a nuclear disaster,” he said. Expressen.
Putin has also “boasted” about this new weapon, and said that there is nothing similar in the rest of the world, according to postdoctoral fellow Kristin Ven Bruusgaard at the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo.
But here he is not quite right, she thinks.
– This is not a qualitatively different weapon, but it has some characteristics – some marginal differences – from what the other nuclear weapon country has, she says.
– The difference is that the others do not show it, she adds.
– Not for use
– What is Russia now telling its own people about what kind of nuclear weapons they have?
– They show well-known weapon systems. Sarmat, or “Satan 2”, is their new, heavy intercontinental missile. It is a very large nuclear weapon, which can carry ten warheads, Bruusgaard answers, and adds:
– There are other nuclear weapons that can carry many warheads, but I do not think there is a country that has one with as many. When Putin describes this weapon as unique, it is therefore a truth with modifications.
That Russia will actually use this weapon in an attack is highly unlikely, according to the postdoctoral fellow.
– It is completely out of the question that Putin would send out a Sarmat rocket. This is a weapon designed to deter, not to use, she says.
But the fact that he and the regime show off their weapons does not surprise her.
– This is not the first time they have such a type of visualization of how the weapons can be used and how they can hit. They are often very specific about it, she says, and cites an example from 2018, when Putin on state television had shown how a missile could hit Donald Trump’s house in the United States.
– The same words were not used then as now. Some of those who show off their weapons are now known to be extreme rhetoricians. It is a very extreme form of communication, she says.
She further points out that Russia has the eyes of the world on it in a completely different way now than before, and that the rhetoric Putin has used for many years is interpreted with more seriousness in these times.
According to Bruusgaard, Russia started modernizing its nuclear arsenal in 2008, and has since developed new weapons systems – such as the “Satan 2” missile.
However, there is a lot of semantics associated with the Russian rearmament, she believes.
– There is a limit to how many long-range missiles they can have, because there is still a disarmament agreement they are adhering to; New START agreement from 2010, between Russia and the United States, says the postdoctoral fellow.
On February 3, 2021, the United States and Russia agreed that the New START Agreement should be extended until February 4, 2026.
That this agreement actually still exists, Bruusgaard experiences that often drowns a little in the mentions of Russia’s nuclear weapons threats.
– The stories are often presented a little without context. The point is that it we see is a nuclear deterrent, she says.
– Scary situation
– How capable are the Russians of using nuclear weapons? Either targeted in Ukraine, or towards the West?
– Basically, it is not very likely that they use it in Ukraine. Many have stated this, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the postdoctoral fellow answers and points out:
– The war in Ukraine is not a type of conflict where Russia needs to use nuclear weapons.
– But then the question is how the war develops – whether there will be a war between Russia and NATO. Then the chance of using nuclear weapons is greater, she says, but repeats that in any case it would not be about weapons of the “Satan 2” caliber.
Also in a war between the United States and Russia, which was very serious, Bruusgaard believes that if nuclear weapons were to be used, they would be of the tactical type – that is, targeted.
– The situation we are in is urgent and scary so there is reason to worry about nuclear weapons, but the probability that they will be used is not great, she says.
– Do you think the Swedish and Finnish NATO wishes have a bearing on where or how Russia places its nuclear weapons?
– One can expect that there will be some Russian reactions as a result. It may be a matter of reallocation of military forces, but hardly a permanent relocation of nuclear weapons, Bruusgaard answers.
– Long way
Lieutenant Colonel and professor at the Norwegian Defense College, Tormod Heier, also believes that it is unlikely that Putin and the Russians will use strategic nuclear weapons against the West.
– It is also unlikely that they will dare to use tactical nuclear weapons, although it can not be ruled out. But the consequences will then be very great, said Heier to Dagbladet on Tuesday.
– The road to using nuclear weapons is long from rattling with sabers and threatening. When it threatens to exterminate Britain from the map of strategic nuclear weapons, it is the Russians’ attempt to send a signal to the United States and the West; partly to stop the supply of weapons to Ukraine, partly to lift the sanctions, Heier said.