Nuclear war threats haven’t stirred since the end of the Cold War, but as the Russia–Ukraine conflict transpires, fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use these weapons of mass destruction are ever-rising. Russia currently has the largest nuclear arsenal, however, these are stationed far away in Russia and its close surrounding countries. Whereas the US has many more stationed much closer to Russia’s turf.
Putin has been wielding Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal at countries who “interfere” with his invasion since its launch, warning of “consequences never encountered in your history”.
With the largest arsenal of all nine countries that possess them, Russia is currently reported to possess approximately 6,257 nuclear weapons.
These weapons are stationed largely in areas across Russia and one area reported to be in Kazakhstan.
Only three NATO countries possess nuclear weapons; the US, the UK, and France.
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In NATO’s Nuclear Deterrence policy, it states these countries will “protect other NATO allies under their ‘nuclear umbrellas’ in line with the NATO commitment that an attack on any one ally will be viewed as an attack on the entire alliance.”
With a combined mass treading close to Russia’s heels, these countries are reported to have approximately 5,550, 225, and 290, respectively.
However, amongst the UK and France’s nuclear weapon stations, it’s believed “About half of the roughly 200 US shorter-range weapons are believed to be deployed in five NATO countries in Europe.” according to A. Pomper and Vasilii Tuganov from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
The US has neither confirmed nor denied exact locations, but it’s predicted that the US’s B61-3 and -4 gravity bombs are stationed in the Volkel Airbase in the Netherlands, Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and Buchel Airbase in Germany, as well as the Ghendi and Aviano bases in Italy and the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey.
However, despite there being thousands of nuclear weapons in circulation across the US and Russia; under the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, these countries are limited to having 1,600 on standby each.
By 2018, both the US and Russia met these obligations and in early 2021, this treaty was extended for a further five years.