In the run-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the superior US intelligence network has shown that the chances of a surprise Russian nuclear attack are remote. Putin is almost certainly trying to avoid a war with NATO, which would cause both sides to lose the advantage in technological and economic terms. Nevertheless, the possibility of a surprise Russian nuclear strike is not zero. As a result, the United States and NATO forces should respond immediately to a threat from Russia.
There are two plausible scenarios in which the U.S. would face a surprise Russian nuclear attack. First, the US could launch ICBMs and Moscow would retaliate in kind. After an EMP-devastated U.S., Russia and China would fight for global dominance. Pakistan, India, and Iran would no longer be capable of acting as global policemen, as they currently do. This scenario could spell the end of mankind.
Second, the U.S. would be hit by an EMP and then by an ICBM. If the U.S. launches missiles against Russia, Moscow would respond in kind. The US would be destroyed, and only China and Russia would remain as the superpowers. The host European governments and NATO would never allow a tactical Russian nuclear strike against them. Moreover, the possibility of a surprise Russian attack is still far from zero.
While the likelihood of a surprise Russian attack is slim, there are some reasons to worry. In the first place, the US Air Force intercepted four Russian nuclear-capable long-range bombers in the Pacific Ocean in January. This is a warning sign to Russia that it has a nuclear-capable long-range bomber on its hands. It’s also important to note that the Russians don’t underestimate the American missile defence system, which has a high threshold of deterrence.
There are a few possible reasons for this. First, Russian nuclear warheads are in central storage. Secondly, they have not yet been deployed on strategic bombers. Hence, an enhanced readiness alert could allow the Russian forces to mate the weapons to medium-range missiles. Third, NATO has failed to demonstrate a robust response. Furthermore, it fails to address the problem of misinterpretation.
The US and Russia have a number of novel nuclear weapons that provide them with a unilateral escalation capability. The US and Russia are not yet ready to fire these weapons, so a surprise Russian nuclear attack is highly likely. While it would be difficult to target an individual or an entire nation, there are other reasons for this situation to occur. The U.S. and Russia both have the capability to send a hypersonic missile.
Although a surprise Russian nuclear attack on the U.S. is unlikely, it is important to be prepared. Having 350 strategic nuclear warheads in Europe would make the United States vulnerable to a massive attack by Russia. Even though the first day of the Russian attack, 70 to 100 million people could die. If Putin is unaware of the U.S.’s response, it is vital to retaliate.
The US and NATO are not obligated to respond militarily to a Russian nuclear attack on the Ukrainian people. However, an in-kind response would isolate Russia from the world and would unite NATO against Putin. In case of a surprise Russian nuclear attack on NATO, there is a possibility that the U.S. and NATO will respond in kind. This would sway Putin to issue further threats to avoid an attack on Ukraine.
A surprise Russian nuclear attack on the U.S. would greatly isolate the United States. Consequently, it is likely to further isolate Russia from the rest of the world. The United States and NATO are also not obligated to respond militarily to a Russian nuclear attack on another NATO state. In-kind reactions would likely lead to a reaction from Putin. This could be the reason why they will not respond in kind to a surprise Soviet nuclear attack on the United States.
The United States and Russia both maintain high-level readiness for SLBMs and land-based ICBMs. The two sides are maintaining a “launch-under-attack” posture, where they can launch a nuclear strike within minutes of an authorized “go” order. This gives neither side much time to prepare for a retaliatory strike. As a result, a false alarm can cause a catastrophic nuclear war.