In the wake of Vladimir Putin's barely veiled nuclear threat upon announcing a mobilization of Russia's reserve forces to reverse his recent losses in Ukraine on Sept. 21, official and semi-official Moscow commentators have made such menacing completely explicit. Later that same day, former Putin advisor Sergei Markov was interviewed by BBC Radio, whose anchor politely began with "Good morning to you." Markov replied: "It's not a good morning for everybody. In Russia there's partial mobilization and for Western countries, for your British listeners, I would say that Vladimir Putin told you that he would be ready to use nuclear weapons against Western countries, including nuclear weapons against Great Britain. Your cities will be targeted." (Daily Beast, Indy100)
Dozens of municipal deputies from Moscow and St. Petersburg on Sept. 12 issued a public statement calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to resign. "President Putin's actions are detrimental to the future of Russia and its citizens," reads the petition shared on Twitter by Xenia Torstrem, a deputy for St. Petersburg's Semyonovsky district. The call comes amid claims of vote-rigging in the previous week's local and regional elections—as well as a dramatic advance by Kyiv's forces that marks the most significant setback yet in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Several towns have been liberated in the Ukrainian counter-offensive in northeastern Kharkiv region.
North Korea passed a law Sept. 9 enshrining its right to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes. According to the official Korea Central New Agency (KCNA), the law states that "if the command and control system of the national nuclear force is in danger of being attacked by hostile forces, the nuclear strike will be carried out automatically and immediately." The KCNA added that "by promulgating a law on a policy of the nuclear forces, our country's status as a nuclear-weapons state has become irreversible." The new law replaces a 2013 law that allowed for the use of nuclear weapons only in retaliation or to repel invasion.
More than 5 billion people would die of hunger following a full-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia, according to a global study led by Rutgers climate scientists, published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature Food. The team estimated how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms that would be ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers calculated soot dispersal from six scenarios—from a regional India-Pakistan exchange to a large US-Russia war.
After a US federal judge unsealed documents related to the FBI's search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, fears have grown over increased threats of violence. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart unsealed the search warrant and attachments Aug. 12, following a motion from the Department of Justice (DoJ). Since unsealing the documents, Reinhart has become the target of violent and anti-Semitic threats, with his personal information, including home address, shared across Twitter and far-right platforms. Threats against Reinhart have prompted the federal judiciary to renew calls for Congress to pass legislation aimed at increasing security for judges.
A series of explosions tore through a Russian airbase on the Crimean Peninsula Aug. 9, leaving one dead. Russia's Defense Ministry said ammunition had detonated at Saki airfield, near the village of Novofedorivka. The base is some 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian lines, and President Volodymyr Zelensky's office denied responsibility for the blasts. However, an unnamed Kyiv official anonymously told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out an attack on the base. The official emphasized that "a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used."
In official comments on the anniversary of the Aug. 9, 1945 US atomic bombing of the Japanese city, the mayor of Nagasaki sounded a note of alarm. Mayor Tomihisa Taue stated: "In January this year, the leaders of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China released a joint statement affirming that 'a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.' However, the very next month Russia invaded Ukraine. Threats of using nuclear weapons have been made, sending shivers throughout the globe. The use of nuclear weapons is not a groundless fear but a tangible and present crisis." (Japan Today)
Russia officially informed the US on Aug. 8 that it is "temporarily" suspending on-site inspections of its strategic nuclear weapons, a condition of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Moscow accused Washington of seeking "to create unilateral advantages" and deprive Russia of "the right to carry out inspections on American soil" through the closure of air space to Russian planes and visa restrictions on Russian officials. The suspension comes a week after President Joe Biden said he was ready to work on a new nuclear arms deal with Vladimir Putin. New START, set to expire in 2026, is the last remaining arms pact between the US and Russia. The 2010 agreement limits the US and Russia to 1,550 deployed long-range nuclear missiles each. (BBC News, Al Jazeera)