World War 5
NATO on Oct. 17 opened an annual exercise to test nuclear deterrence capabilities in Europe, with the participation of 14 of the 30 member countries. The drill, this year dubbed "Steadfast Noon," will run two weeks and involve 60 aircraft. "As in previous years, US B-52 long-range bombers will take part; this year, they will fly from Minot Air Base in North Dakota," NATO said in a statement. "Training flights will take place over Belgium, which is hosting the exercise, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom."
As Russia suffers more territorial losses on the ground in eastern Ukraine, figures close to the Putin regime are escalating both the frequency and blatancy of their threats to use nuclear weapons. Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's region of Chechnya who has mobilized his regional forces to fight in Ukraine, stated on social media platform Telegram Oct. 1: "In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons." (Reuters)
In Episode 143 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the all too telling irony that Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Donbas region came on exactly the same day as the 1938 Munich Agreement, which approved Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region. Russian annexation of the Donbas was preceded by that of Crimea, just as the Nazi annexation of Sudetenland was preceded by that of Austria. This is the same pattern of escalation toward world war—only this time Putin's overt nuclear threats make the stakes even higher. Signs of hope include the anti-draft uprising in Russia and mass exodus of Russian youth, which undermine Putin's war effort and threaten his very regime. War Resisters International has issued a petition demanding that European states offer asylum to all Russian deserters and conscientious objectors to military service. Alas, much of the Western "left" continues to cover up for Putin's criminal aggression. Dissident websites such as CounterVortex and Balkan Witness debunk the Russian war propaganda being recycled by Putin's internet partisans on the pro-fascist pseudo-left.
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)
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.
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)