NATO’s Nuclear Drills and Russian Border Security: What happens if Russia responds with a nuclear attack?

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The head of the Border Service of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Kulishov, recently detailed NATO’s escalating military activities near Russian borders. Kulishov revealed that NATO is intensifying its reconnaissance operations and operational combat training, which now include scenarios involving nuclear strikes against Russia. This alarming development underscores the heightened tensions between NATO and Russia and necessitates a closer examination of the geopolitical and military implications.

Kulishov’s statements indicate a significant increase in NATO’s military exercises aimed at simulating combat operations against the Russian Federation. These drills, involving the potential use of nuclear weapons, have become more frequent and intense. This escalation poses a direct threat to regional stability and highlights the fragile state of international relations in the current geopolitical climate.

Thwarted Ukrainian Infiltration Attempts

Since February 2022, Russian border guards, in collaboration with the Sever Battlegroup, have successfully thwarted 29 attempts by Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups to infiltrate Russian territory. These attempts occurred in the Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod Regions, as well as in the Crimean Republic. Kulishov emphasized that these infiltration efforts are part of a broader strategy by Ukraine to destabilize Russian regions.

The increasing number of missile and artillery strikes on Russian territory, coupled with the growing intensity of drone attacks on military, transport, energy, and social infrastructure, further exacerbate the situation. Kulishov noted that these attacks primarily target civilians, including the elderly and children, highlighting the human cost of the ongoing conflict.

In 2023 alone, more than 5,500 attempts to enter Russia by individuals linked to international terrorist and extremist organizations, as well as Ukrainian special services and armed formations, were prevented. This statistic underscores the persistent threat posed by these groups and the vigilance required by Russian border security forces.

The Role of Electronic Warfare in Border Security

A significant aspect of Russia’s border security efforts has been the use of electronic warfare to combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In 2023, Russian border guards downed over 1,300 Ukrainian drones that violated Russian airspace. More than half of these drones were neutralized using electronic warfare equipment, demonstrating the effectiveness of these advanced technologies.

The development and deployment of anti-drone technologies and unmanned aviation systems are critical components of Russia’s border defense strategy. These technologies enhance the capabilities of border security forces and provide a robust response to the evolving threat posed by UAVs. Kulishov highlighted the importance of continuing to innovate in these areas to maintain a technological edge over potential adversaries.

The Broader Impact of Russia’s Military Operations

Since the commencement of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, the Russian Defense Ministry reports substantial destruction of Ukrainian military assets. This includes the downing of 23,600 drones, 500 surface-to-air missile systems, 590 military aircraft, 270 helicopters, 15,890 tanks and other armored vehicles, 1,200 rocket launchers, 9,200 field artillery weapons and mortars, and 21,400 tactical vehicles. These figures, reported in early May, illustrate the scale and intensity of the ongoing conflict.

The destruction of such a significant number of military assets has profound implications for the Ukrainian armed forces’ operational capabilities. It also reflects the extensive resources committed by Russia to this military operation. The high number of destroyed assets suggests a sustained and intense level of military engagement, with substantial costs for both sides.

Historical Context and Geopolitical Implications

To understand the current situation, it is essential to consider the historical context of NATO-Russia relations and the geopolitical landscape. The expansion of NATO eastward and the inclusion of former Soviet states into the alliance have been points of contention for Russia. Moscow perceives NATO’s proximity to its borders as a direct threat to its national security, a view that has been a driving force behind its foreign policy and military strategy.

The increased reconnaissance activities and combat training near Russian borders are seen by Russia as provocations that exacerbate an already tense situation. These activities undermine trust and hinder efforts to achieve a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing conflict.

Technical Advancements in Border Security

The integration of advanced technologies in border security is a critical aspect of Russia’s defense strategy. Electronic warfare systems, capable of disrupting and neutralizing UAVs, play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of Russian airspace. The success of these systems in downing over 1,300 drones in 2023 alone highlights their effectiveness and the necessity of continued investment in these technologies.

Additionally, the development of unmanned aviation and marine systems offers new opportunities for enhancing border security. These systems provide increased surveillance capabilities and can operate in environments that are difficult or dangerous for human personnel. The continuous evolution of these technologies ensures that Russian border forces remain equipped to address emerging threats.

The Human Cost of the Conflict

The ongoing conflict has had a devastating impact on civilians, with missile and artillery strikes targeting populated areas. Kulishov’s statements underscore the human toll of these attacks, which have resulted in casualties among the elderly and children. The targeting of civilian infrastructure further compounds the suffering, disrupting essential services and creating a humanitarian crisis.

Efforts to infiltrate Russian territory by individuals associated with terrorist and extremist organizations also pose a significant threat to civilian safety. The prevention of over 5,500 such attempts in 2023 highlights the ongoing danger and the importance of robust border security measures.

The Potential Nuclear Clash Between NATO and Russia

As geopolitical tensions continue to escalate, the specter of a nuclear conflict between NATO and Russia looms large. The origins, potential triggers, and catastrophic consequences of such a clash are subjects of intense analysis and concern among global security experts. This detailed document explores the underlying causes, the likely flashpoints, the potential casualties, infrastructure damage, and the possible outcomes of a nuclear confrontation between these two powerful entities.

Origins and Causes

The roots of the current crisis can be traced back to the historical rivalry and recent geopolitical maneuvers. The expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, perceived by Russia as encroaching on its traditional sphere of influence, has been a major point of contention. Russian President Vladimir Putin has framed the conflict as a defense against a Western encroachment that began after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This narrative positions Russia as a protector against Western aggression, while NATO and its allies view Russia’s actions, particularly the invasion of Ukraine, as aggressive and expansionist​​.

Potential Triggers

Several scenarios could trigger a direct nuclear confrontation:

Escalation in Ukraine – Increased Military Support from NATO Countries to Ukraine, Including Advanced Weaponry, Could Provoke Russia into Taking More Drastic Measures, Including the Deployment of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has seen a significant escalation in military support from NATO countries, including the provision of advanced weaponry. This increased support has raised concerns that Russia might resort to more drastic measures, potentially including the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. This document examines the current situation, the nature of NATO’s support to Ukraine, Russia’s potential responses, and the implications of such an escalation.

NATO’s Military Support to Ukraine

Since the onset of the conflict, NATO countries have significantly increased their military assistance to Ukraine. This support includes various forms of advanced weaponry and equipment designed to bolster Ukraine’s defensive and offensive capabilities. Key elements of NATO’s support include:

  • Advanced Anti-Aircraft Systems: Systems like the Patriot missile batteries and advanced drones have been supplied to enhance Ukraine’s air defense capabilities.
  • Artillery and Rocket Systems: The provision of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and advanced howitzers has significantly improved Ukraine’s long-range strike capabilities.
  • Armored Vehicles and Tanks: NATO countries have supplied a range of armored vehicles and tanks, including Leopard 2 tanks from Germany and Challenger 2 tanks from the UK.
  • Training and Intelligence: Extensive training programs for Ukrainian soldiers and real-time intelligence sharing have been critical components of NATO’s support strategy.

Russia’s Potential Responses

Given the increasing sophistication and volume of military aid to Ukraine, Russia might consider several responses, including the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons. There are three primary scenarios under which Russia could escalate to nuclear use:

  • Signaling Device: Russia might conduct a nuclear test as a warning to Ukraine and its Western supporters. This could involve a low-yield nuclear detonation in a remote area to demonstrate capability and resolve without causing mass casualties.
  • Battlefield Weapon: In a more direct approach, Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield to target Ukrainian military formations or infrastructure. These weapons, with smaller yields and more precise targeting, could be used to create significant tactical advantages or to disrupt Ukrainian advances.
  • Strategic Deterrent: As a last resort, Russia could threaten or potentially deploy strategic nuclear weapons to deter further NATO involvement and force a political settlement on its terms.

Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

The recent decision by Russia to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus represents a significant escalation in the geopolitical landscape of Europe. This move not only brings nuclear weapons closer to NATO’s borders but also increases the chances of miscalculation and conflict.

For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia is stationing nuclear weapons outside its own borders. This deployment is reminiscent of Cold War-era strategies and directly challenges the existing security architecture in Europe. Historically, Belarus, along with Kazakhstan and Ukraine, relinquished its nuclear arsenal in the 1990s under the Budapest Memorandum, which provided security assurances from Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom in exchange for disarmament. However, the current geopolitical tensions have led to a reversal of this stance, with Belarus now playing a central role in Russia’s nuclear strategy​ ​.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of these weapons, emphasizing that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had requested their placement. This agreement includes the transfer of Iskander-M missile systems capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, and the modernization of Belarusian Su-25 aircraft to enable them to carry nuclear weapons. Despite the strategic ambiguity, estimates suggest that the number of nuclear weapons to be deployed might range from 10 to 20, focusing primarily on gravity bombs to be used by aircraft​​.

The specific locations and the exact timeline for the deployment remain undisclosed, but storage facilities are expected to be completed by July 1. This move significantly alters the strategic calculus for NATO, particularly for Eastern European countries like Poland and the Baltic states, which share borders with Belarus. The proximity of these nuclear weapons increases the risk of rapid escalation in any potential conflict​​.

NATO has long had a nuclear sharing arrangement where U.S. nuclear weapons are stationed in several European countries. This deployment by Russia could be seen as a countermeasure to the NATO nuclear presence, aiming to create a balance of power. NATO’s existing nuclear weapons are stored across six bases in five member countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. These are primarily B61 gravity bombs intended for use by both American and European aircraft​ .

The deployment in Belarus not only serves as a direct threat to NATO but also enhances Russia’s strategic depth. Belarus’s location offers a vantage point for potential strikes against NATO’s eastern flank, further complicating NATO’s defense strategies and response times. This development also puts additional pressure on NATO members, particularly those in close proximity, to bolster their own defensive and deterrent capabilities​ ​.

The move by Russia is seen as a significant escalation, with potential global repercussions. The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is perceived as a step that could trigger a new arms race, reminiscent of the Cold War. It undermines the existing arms control agreements and exacerbates regional tensions. The international community, particularly the European Union and NATO, has expressed severe concerns and threatened sanctions against both Russia and Belarus for this provocative act​ ​.

Furthermore, the deployment raises questions about the operational control of these weapons. While Russia maintains that it will retain control over the nuclear warheads, the training of Belarusian pilots and the potential for operational handover during wartime create ambiguities that heighten the risk of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation​ ​.

Accidental Engagements

The modern geopolitical landscape, characterized by heightened tensions and the presence of nuclear-capable forces, has made the risk of accidental engagements during military exercises a significant concern. High-stakes military drills involving advanced weaponry and nuclear forces can inadvertently lead to rapid escalation and conflict. This document explores the risks associated with these exercises, highlighting historical incidents, current practices, and future projections.

Historical Context and Notable Incidents

Able Archer 83

One of the most notable incidents illustrating the danger of military exercises escalating to near-war scenarios is the NATO exercise “Able Archer 83.” This 1983 war game simulated a gradual escalation from conventional to nuclear conflict. The Soviet Union, misinterpreting the exercise as a potential real attack, reportedly began preparing for a surprise nuclear strike. Although the exact seriousness of the Soviet response remains debated, the incident underscores the potential for exercises to provoke dangerous misunderstandings and near-catastrophic outcomes.

NATO-Russia Tensions

Recent history continues to reflect these risks. In 2020, during a NATO exercise in the Black Sea, a Russian fighter jet flew within 100 feet of a U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bomber. Similarly, in June 2021, Russia reported firing warning shots and dropping bombs near the British warship HMS Defender as it sailed close to Crimea. These incidents, while not escalating to full-blown conflict, demonstrate the precarious nature of military exercises in volatile regions.

Current Practices and Risks

Russia’s Simulated Nuclear Launches : In May 2022, Russia conducted simulated launches of nuclear-capable Iskander-M ballistic missiles during exercises in the Kaliningrad enclave. These drills, involving over 100 troops, simulated strikes on targets such as airfields and military command posts. Despite Russian officials downplaying the likelihood of actual nuclear deployment, such exercises contribute to heightened tensions with NATO and increase the risk of miscalculation.

U.S. and NATO Responses : The United States and NATO have maintained vigilance in monitoring Russian military activities. For example, during the 2022 exercises, U.S. officials emphasized their strategic deterrence capabilities, ensuring their readiness to defend against any potential threats. However, the continuation of such high-stakes drills by both sides perpetuates a cycle of provocation and counter-provocation, exacerbating the risk of accidental engagements.

Projections and Strategic Considerations

Escalation Risks

Military exercises are often intended to demonstrate resolve and deterrence capabilities. However, they can also be perceived as legitimate threats, prompting adversaries to respond with their own shows of force. This cycle of action and reaction increases the likelihood of misinterpretation and accidental engagement. In regions like Eastern Europe, where NATO and Russian forces frequently conduct drills in close proximity, the risk of rapid escalation remains particularly acute.

Policy Recommendations

To mitigate these risks, several measures can be considered:

  • Enhanced Communication Channels: Establishing robust and reliable communication lines between military forces can help prevent misunderstandings and provide a mechanism for de-escalation during exercises.
  • Transparency and Notifications: Greater transparency regarding the scope and nature of military exercises can reduce the potential for misinterpretation. Advanced notifications and observer participation can also build confidence and reduce suspicions.
  • Limitations on Provocative Drills: Limiting the scale and frequency of military exercises involving nuclear-capable forces in sensitive regions can lower the chances of accidental engagements.

The presence of nuclear-capable forces in proximity during high-stakes military exercises significantly heightens the risk of accidental engagements and rapid escalation. Historical incidents like Able Archer 83 and recent tensions between NATO and Russia illustrate the potential dangers. To ensure stability and reduce the risk of unintended conflict, it is imperative to adopt measures that enhance communication, transparency, and strategic restraint during military drills.

By understanding and addressing these risks, the international community can work towards a more secure and stable geopolitical environment, minimizing the chances of accidental nuclear engagements.

Consequences of a Nuclear Conflict

The use of nuclear weapons, even in a tactical capacity, would have profound implications for the conflict and global security:

  • Humanitarian Impact: The immediate humanitarian impact would be catastrophic, with significant loss of life and long-term health effects from radiation exposure.
  • Environmental Consequences: The environmental fallout from nuclear weapons use would be severe, affecting agriculture, water sources, and leading to long-term ecological damage.
  • Global Political Response: The deployment of nuclear weapons would likely galvanize a unified global response, potentially isolating Russia diplomatically and economically even further. Key allies such as China might be forced to reevaluate their positions.
  • Military Dynamics: On the battlefield, the use of tactical nuclear weapons could disrupt Ukrainian operations but might also harden their resolve and increase NATO’s military commitment to Ukraine.
  • Casualties: Estimates suggest that a full-scale nuclear exchange could result in millions of immediate deaths, with additional casualties from radiation sickness, fallout, and the collapse of medical infrastructure. Specific figures are difficult to ascertain, but the combined arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, which hold over 10,600 nuclear warheads, highlight the potential scale of devastation​.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Major cities and military installations on both sides would be prime targets, resulting in the destruction of critical infrastructure, including power grids, transportation networks, and communication systems. This would lead to a breakdown of societal order and long-term humanitarian crises​​.

Potential Outcomes and the Question of Victory

The notion of “victory” in a nuclear war is highly contentious. While conventional military metrics might suggest that NATO, with its superior economic and conventional military resources, could emerge as the dominant force, the reality is more complex:

NATO’s Military Superiority: NATO’s combined military capabilities, including three times the personnel and significantly more aerial and naval resources, provide a conventional advantage. However, this does not easily translate to a decisive victory in a nuclear conflict, where the primary objective shifts to survival and minimizing damage​​.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): The doctrine of MAD ensures that any nuclear exchange would result in devastating losses for both sides, making the concept of victory meaningless in traditional terms. The primary focus would be on limiting the spread of conflict and preventing total annihilation.

Post-Conflict World: In the aftermath of a nuclear exchange, both NATO and Russia would face immense challenges in rebuilding and addressing the long-term humanitarian and environmental impacts. The global balance of power would likely shift, with significant geopolitical realignments as the world grapples with the consequences of nuclear warfare.

A nuclear clash between NATO and Russia, though unlikely, remains a terrifying possibility given the current geopolitical climate. The potential triggers, catastrophic consequences, and the uncertain notion of victory underscore the need for continued diplomatic efforts and robust arms control measures to prevent such a devastating conflict. The stakes are unimaginably high, and the focus must remain on averting disaster and maintaining global peace and stability.

Future Developments and Strategic Considerations

Looking ahead, the situation along Russia’s borders is likely to remain tense, with continued efforts by NATO to conduct military exercises and reconnaissance operations. The potential for escalation is ever-present, necessitating a cautious and measured approach to avoid further conflict.

The development of new technologies and the enhancement of existing systems will be crucial in maintaining effective border security. Continued investment in electronic warfare, unmanned systems, and other advanced technologies will provide Russian forces with the tools needed to counter emerging threats.

In conclusion, the statements made by Vladimir Kulishov provide a stark reminder of the current geopolitical tensions and the ongoing challenges faced by Russian border security forces. The increased activities by NATO near Russian borders, coupled with the persistent threat of infiltration and drone attacks, underscore the volatile nature of the region. Through continued vigilance and the integration of advanced technologies, Russia aims to protect its borders and maintain stability in the face of these ongoing threats.


APPENDIX 1- Simulation of a Russian nuclear attack on the following cities, using SS-18 M6 Satan ICBMs – Warsaw – Stockholm – Berlin – Paris – London

Type/nameRussian designationLaunchersYear deployedWarheads x yield (kilotons)Total warheads
Strategic offensive weapons
ICBMs
SS-18 M6 SatanRS-20V40198810 x 500/800 (MIRV)4001
SS-19 M3 StilettoRS-18 (UR-100NUTTH)019806 x 400 (MIRV)0
SS-19 M4? (Avangard)620191 x HGV6
SS-25 SickleRS-12M (Topol)9319881 x 8009
SS-27 Mod 1 (mobile)RS-12M1 (Topol-M)1820061 x 800?18
SS-27 Mod 1 (silo)RS-12M2 (Topol-M)6019971 x 80060
SS-27 Mod 2 (mobile)RS-24 (Yars)15320104 x 100? (MIRV)6124
SS-27 Mod 2 (silo)RS-24 (Yars)2020144 x 100? (MIRV)80
SS-X-29 (silo)RS-28 (Sarmat)(2022)10 x 500? (MIRV)
Subtotal30611855
SLBMs
SS-N-18 M1 StingrayRSM-500/019783 x 50 (MIRV)0
SS-N-23 M2/3RSM-54 (Sineva/Layner)5/8020074 x 100 (MIRV)3208
SS-N-32RSM-56 (Bulava)5/8020146 x 100 (MIRV)4809
Subtotal10/160800
Bombers/weapons
Bear-H6/16Tu-95MS6/MS16/MSM551984/20156-16 x AS-15A ALCMs or 14 x AS-23B ALC448
BlackjackTu-160/M131987/202112 x AS-15B ALCMs or AS-23B ALCM, bombs132
Subtotal68580
Subtotal strategic offensive forces5342565
Nonstrategic and defensive weapons
ABM/Air/Coastal defense
S-300/S-400 (SA-20/SA-21)~7501992/20071 x low~290
53T6 Gazelle6819861 x 1068
SSC-1B Sepal (Redut)1719731 x 3504
SSC-5 Stooge (SS-N-26) (K-300P/3M-55)602015(1 x 10)25
Land-based air
Bombers/fighters~3001974-2018ASMs, ALBM, bombs~500
Ground-based
SS-26 Stone SSM (9K720, Iskander-M)14420051 x 10-10070
SSC-7 Southpaw GLCM (R-500/9M728, Iskander-M)
SSC-8 Screwdriver GLCM (9M729)202220171 x 10-10020
Naval
Submarines/surface ships/air~935

This table breaks down the Russian nuclear forces in 2022 by type/name, Russian designation, launchers, year deployed, warheads x yield (kilotons), and total warheads

Example explanation destructive power: SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V)

SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V): This refers to a variant of the SS-18 missile, also known as the RS-20V. The SS-18 is a Soviet-designed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) developed during the Cold War.

10 x 500/800 (MIRV): “10” suggests the number of warheads this missile can carry, and “500/800” refers to the estimated yield of each warhead in kilotons. “MIRV” stands for Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle, indicating that the missile can carry multiple warheads, each capable of being directed to different targets.

  • 4001: This could refer to the total combined yield of all warheads if detonated simultaneously, potentially indicating a total yield of 4001 kilotons.

So, the meaning of “how many kilotons in the SS-18 M6 Satan RS-20V 40 1988 10 x 500/800 (MIRV) 4001” would be that the SS-18 Mod 6 Satan RS-20V missile variant from 1988 is capable of carrying 10 warheads, each with an estimated yield of 500 to 800 kilotons, totaling a potential combined yield of 4001 kilotons if all warheads were detonated.

Simulation of consequences of the use of a nuclear device (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V) on Warsaw

Estimated fatalities: 947,590

Estimated injuries: 547,240

In any given 24-hour period, there are on average 2,058,990 people in the light (1 psi) blast range of the simulated detonation.


Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive. Fallout effects are deliberately ignored, because they can depend on what actions people take after the detonation.


Effect distances for a 4 megaton surface burst:  

Fireball radius: 2.44 km (18.7 km²)

Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to damage on the ground depends on the height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Anything inside the fireball is effectively vaporized.

Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.96 km (27.5 km²)

500rem ionizing radiation dose; likely fatal, in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Heavy blast damage radius (20 psi): 3.45 km (37.5 km²)

At 20 psi overpressure, heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%. Often used as a benchmark for heavy damage in cities.

Moderate blast damage radius (5 psi): 7.27 km (166 km²)

At 5 psi overpressure, most residential buildings collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. The chances of a fire starting in commercial and residential damage are high, and buildings so damaged are at high risk of spreading fire. Often used as a benchmark for moderate damage in cities.

Light blast damage radius (1 psi): 18.7 km (1,100 km²)

At a around 1 psi overpressure, glass windows can be expected to break. This can cause many injuries in a surrounding population who comes to a window after seeing the flash of a nuclear explosion (which travels faster than the pressure wave). Often used as a benchmark for light damage in cities.

Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 19.4 km (1,180 km²)

Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of skin, and are often painless because they destroy the pain nerves. They can cause severe scarring or disablement, and can require amputation. 100% probability for 3rd degree burns at this yield is 12.2cal/cm².

Simulation of consequences of the use of a nuclear device (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V) on Berlin

Estimated fatalities: 948,240

Estimated injuries: 1,127,250

In any given 24-hour period, there are on average 3,473,208 people in the light (1 psi) blast range of the simulated detonation.


Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive. Fallout effects are deliberately ignored, because they can depend on what actions people take after the detonation.


Effect distances for a 4 megaton surface burst:  

Fireball radius: 2.44 km (18.7 km²)

Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to damage on the ground depends on the height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Anything inside the fireball is effectively vaporized.

Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.96 km (27.5 km²)

500rem ionizing radiation dose; likely fatal, in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Heavy blast damage radius (20 psi): 3.45 km (37.5 km²)

At 20 psi overpressure, heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%. Often used as a benchmark for heavy damage in cities.

Moderate blast damage radius (5 psi): 7.27 km (166 km²)

At 5 psi overpressure, most residential buildings collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. The chances of a fire starting in commercial and residential damage are high, and buildings so damaged are at high risk of spreading fire. Often used as a benchmark for moderate damage in cities.

Light blast damage radius (1 psi): 18.7 km (1,100 km²)

At a around 1 psi overpressure, glass windows can be expected to break. This can cause many injuries in a surrounding population who comes to a window after seeing the flash of a nuclear explosion (which travels faster than the pressure wave). Often used as a benchmark for light damage in cities.

Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 19.4 km (1,180 km²)

Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of skin, and are often painless because they destroy the pain nerves. They can cause severe scarring or disablement, and can require amputation. 100% probability for 3rd degree burns at this yield is 12.2cal/cm².

Simulation of consequences of the use of a nuclear device (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V) on Stockholm

Estimated fatalities: 406,630

Estimated injuries: 432,560

In any given 24-hour period, there are on average 1,392,642 people in the light (1 psi) blast range of the simulated detonation.


Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive. Fallout effects are deliberately ignored, because they can depend on what actions people take after the detonation.


Effect distances for a 4 megaton surface burst:  

Fireball radius: 2.44 km (18.7 km²)

Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to damage on the ground depends on the height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Anything inside the fireball is effectively vaporized.

Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.96 km (27.5 km²)

500rem ionizing radiation dose; likely fatal, in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Heavy blast damage radius (20 psi): 3.45 km (37.5 km²)

At 20 psi overpressure, heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%. Often used as a benchmark for heavy damage in cities.

Moderate blast damage radius (5 psi): 7.27 km (166 km²)

At 5 psi overpressure, most residential buildings collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. The chances of a fire starting in commercial and residential damage are high, and buildings so damaged are at high risk of spreading fire. Often used as a benchmark for moderate damage in cities.

Light blast damage radius (1 psi): 18.7 km (1,100 km²)

At a around 1 psi overpressure, glass windows can be expected to break. This can cause many injuries in a surrounding population who comes to a window after seeing the flash of a nuclear explosion (which travels faster than the pressure wave). Often used as a benchmark for light damage in cities.

Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 19.4 km (1,180 km²)

Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of skin, and are often pain

Simulation of consequences of the use of a nuclear device (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V) on Paris

Estimated fatalities: 2,459,120

Estimated injuries: 2,336,110

In any given 24-hour period, there are on average 8,021,414 people in the light (1 psi) blast range of the simulated detonation.


Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive. Fallout effects are deliberately ignored, because they can depend on what actions people take after the detonation.


Effect distances for a 4 megaton surface burst:  

Fireball radius: 2.44 km (18.7 km²)

Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to damage on the ground depends on the height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Anything inside the fireball is effectively vaporized.

Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.96 km (27.5 km²)

500rem ionizing radiation dose; likely fatal, in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Heavy blast damage radius (20 psi): 3.45 km (37.5 km²)

At 20 psi overpressure, heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%. Often used as a benchmark for heavy damage in cities.

Moderate blast damage radius (5 psi): 7.27 km (166 km²)

At 5 psi overpressure, most residential buildings collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. The chances of a fire starting in commercial and residential damage are high, and buildings so damaged are at high risk of spreading fire. Often used as a benchmark for moderate damage in cities.

Light blast damage radius (1 psi): 18.7 km (1,100 km²)

At a around 1 psi overpressure, glass windows can be expected to break. This can cause many injuries in a surrounding population who comes to a window after seeing the flash of a nuclear explosion (which travels faster than the pressure wave). Often used as a benchmark for light damage in cities.

Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 19.4 km (1,180 km²)

Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of skin, and are often pain

Simulation of consequences of the use of a nuclear device (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan (RS-20V) on London

Estimated fatalities: 1,437,860

Estimated injuries: 2,086,660

In any given 24-hour period, there are on average 6,708,804 people in the light (1 psi) blast range of the simulated detonation.


Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive. Fallout effects are deliberately ignored, because they can depend on what actions people take after the detonation.


Effect distances for a 4 megaton surface burst:  

Fireball radius: 2.44 km (18.7 km²)

Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to damage on the ground depends on the height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Anything inside the fireball is effectively vaporized.

Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.96 km (27.5 km²)

500rem ionizing radiation dose; likely fatal, in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Heavy blast damage radius (20 psi): 3.45 km (37.5 km²)

At 20 psi overpressure, heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%. Often used as a benchmark for heavy damage in cities.

Moderate blast damage radius (5 psi): 7.27 km (166 km²)

At 5 psi overpressure, most residential buildings collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. The chances of a fire starting in commercial and residential damage are high, and buildings so damaged are at high risk of spreading fire. Often used as a benchmark for moderate damage in cities.

Light blast damage radius (1 psi): 18.7 km (1,100 km²)

At a around 1 psi overpressure, glass windows can be expected to break. This can cause many injuries in a surrounding population who comes to a window after seeing the flash of a nuclear explosion (which travels faster than the pressure wave). Often used as a benchmark for light damage in cities.

Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 19.4 km (1,180 km²)

Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of skin, and are often pain


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