World War 3: This is what would happen if Russia declares war


This week, Russia showed off a new nuclear missile which it boasted could devastate an area the size of Texas – and tested a hi-tech warhead which can evade Western anti-missile systems.

Earlier this month, 40 million Russian citizens took place in the biggest nuclear war ‘drill’ since the end of the Cold War – donning gas masks, and preparing to flee to bunkers.

Russian media has fanned the flames still further, with newspapers such as Moskovsky Komsomolets predicting ‘direct military confrontation’ with NATO.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric said earlier this month, ‘Relations between Russia and the United States can’t get any worse. The only way they can get worse is if a war starts.

‘If they [Americans]  vote for Hillary it’s war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere.’

General Sir Richard Shirreff, Nato’s deputy supreme allied commander for Europe between 2011 and 2014, described nuclear war with Russia in 2017 as ‘entirely plausible’

in an interview this year.

How it could begin

Tensions between Russia and America have remained high ever since the United States and European Union imposed economic sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014.

Russian media – much of it owned by Putin’s government – has suggested that America is trying to start a war with Russia.

Earlier this month, Zvezda, a nationwide TV service run by the country’s Ministry of Defence, said, ‘Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow.’

Ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated further in the past month after the collapse of a ceasefire in Syria and intensified bombing on Aleppo by Syrian and Russian aircraft.

American politicians have also suggested that Russia is meddling in the U.S. presidential election next month.

Would Russia use nuclear weapons?

 No state has ever used a nuclear weapon since the end of World War II in 1945 – but Russia has become increasingly keen to show off its arsenal.

Cristina Varriale from defence think tank the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) told The Sun that Putin is ‘ready’ to put Russian nuclear forces on alert.

She said, ‘During the Ukraine crisis…President Putin made it clear he was ready to put Russian nuclear forces on alert in order to deter any NATO intervention.

‘Since then, Russia has greatly increased exercises of nuclear capable aircraft and submarines near to the territory of NATO member states, including the UK.

What would happen in a conventional war with Russia?

Vladimir Putin is keen to tout nuclear weaponry such as the Satan 2 missile – but it’s possible that even if NATO and Russia went to war, neither side would use nuclear weapons.

But even if that happened, the destruction would be on a barely imaginable scale, according to Ian Shields, Associate Lecturer in International Relations, Anglia Ruskin University

In numerical terms, NATO has an advantage – with 3.6m personnel and 7,500 tanks, compared to 800,00 Russian soldiers and 2,750 tanks.

But NATO forces are more thinly spread – meaning that Russia may be able to seize a rapid advantage for instance in the Baltic.

But the ensuing conflict could be devastating.




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