Leading experts warn that the use of nuclear weapons in the Black sea region could trigger a poisonous toxic gas cloud and six and a half foot high tsunamis. Nonetheless, Putin continues to this day to threaten Europe with nuclear war following his disastrous ongoing Ukraine invasion.
According to Dr. Rod Thornton, security expert at King’s College London, Russia could either use a nuke on the battlefield or do a test. It could also potentially target a remote region. Lastly, they could release a nuclear weapon over the Black Sea bordered by the Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.
The impact of nuclear weapons on the human population
Viorel Badescu, Professor of Physics at the University of Bucharest, explained in a recent statement to the Sun that an explosion of a nuclear bomb in the Black Sea could launch entire clouds of toxic gases. It could also cause a colossal tsunami that would hit the coasts of the surrounding countries.
He made clear as well that he did not see the logic of Russia opting for the sea as a testing range, and was highly skeptical over whether Putin would use such a strategy at this point for such a show of force.
In Badescu’s words, there are two different phenomena that may affect the coastal regions simultaneously at the place of the nuclear explosion.
“First, the initial water cavity constitutes the source for a tsunami wave. Second, the [gas] expelled into the atmosphere – which is denser than air – ‘falls’ with a lower speed than the falling water and finally creates a gaseous ‘cloud’ or ‘blanket’ on the sea surface.’’ he said.
The professor signed a study titled “Poison Effects of Asteroid Impacts or Nuclear Explosions in the Western Regions of the Black Sea” in 2006 warning about the effects of a nuclear explosion in the Black Sea. Worryingly, most experts believe there is a high possibility that Putin will consider detonating a nuclear bomb in the sea.
Pretty wild! At the height of tensions over Ukraine, Russia begins strategic nuclear forces exercise. The exercise will include test-launches of ICBMs, SLBMs, bombers as well as Northern/Black sea fleets and southern military district. https://t.co/1x15I7LyHv pic.twitter.com/Yas96J5X74
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) February 18, 2022
The chemical and natural dangers to life
Badescu’s study compares the dangers of both impacts from space and nukes. These apparently have comparable effects with the amount of energy they transfer into the sea. According to his research, what makes the Black Sea unique is the high level of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the water. Indeed, it is the world’s largest natural reservoir of the chemical compound.
The gas, which smells like rotten eggs, is toxic to humans and animals if inhaled and in high doses can even cause death. The effects on human population can be disastrous. Exposure can lead to the inability to to breath, and in high enough doses the chemical can rot people’s brains. A nuclear bomb could release all of these chemicals. The professor highlighted the fact that “the surface that will be affected by such an explosion will be smaller than that affected by Chernobyl.
Moreover, he stated that “…the effects will be much greater in the human population, depending on the place of the explosion, its magnitude and wind speed and direction.” Yet with the simulations the professor has made in his study even the largest nuclear bomb could expel gas clouds that may be able to reach the shore. The clouds evidently travel for around 20 miles and changes with the point of explosion.
Tsunamis is the other threat from a very large nuclear explosion. These storms could cause waves up to 2 meters high, which would easily reach the shores of the Black Sea. A more realistic option for Russia however would be a smaller device, such as the 2 megaton nuke believed to be on the Poseidon nuclear towards, and with some calling it ”the weapon of the Apocalypse”.
The use of such a nuclear weapon would lead to a smaller tsunami. But, according to experts, the submarine’s torpedo can wipe out metropolises like New York and Los Angeles. Badescu also emphasised the effects of a nuke test would be “very small” if a bomb was detonated in the middle of the Black Sea.
Is nuclear war possible?
Nuclear war remains – at this stage – an extreme scenario, a dramatic escalation of the war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, as the German newspaper BILD reported, NATO is closely monitoring Putin’s movements and in the event that he uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. This, due to the fact that he is losing ground there more and more, then the Alliance can “hit” the Russian president on three important “fronts”.
Current nuclear threats are referring specifically to smaller, tactical weapons designed for battlefield use rather than massive city-killing bombs. Russia seems to have around 2,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal. These include small yield missiles, torpedoes and artillery shells.
Moscow’s war doctrine is believed to be open to using nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict as an intimidation tactic, and use of such a weapon must be signed off personally by Putin.
Ukraine making strategic advances
In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army has recaptured large swathes of territory in a successful counter-offensive against Russian attacks. This has forced their troops to abandon their long-held positions.
In a recent interview to the BBC, President Zelensky said of the potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia. “They begin to prepare their society. That’s very dangerous. They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don’t know whether they’ll use or not use it. I think it’s dangerous to even speak about it.”
Zelensky also said that action was needed now as nuclear war was a “risk for the whole planet”. Moscow, he claimed, had “made a step already” by occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Zaporizhzia is Europe’s largest nuclear station which President Putin is trying to turn into Russian property. Around 500 Russian troops were at the plant, he said, although the Ukrainian staff still operate it.
Many experts worry that Russia, if it suffers further setbacks, might use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to avoid defeat. James Acton, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Pace in Washington DC, stated the situation very clearly.
“I am legitimately worried that in that circumstance, Putin might use a nuclear weapon – most likely on the ground in Ukraine to terrify everyone and get his way. We are not at that point yet.”
Last week, President Biden has warned the world could face “Armageddon” if Vladimir Putin uses a tactical nuclear weapon to try to win the war in Ukraine.
President Biden made his most outspoken remarks yet about the threat of nuclear war at a New York Democratic fundraiser last Thursday. The American leader said that it was the closest the world had come to nuclear catastrophe in the last sixty years.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” he said.
“We’ve got a guy I know fairly well,” Biden said, referring to the Russian President. “He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”
Biden also challenged Russian nuclear doctrine. He warned that the use of a lower-yield tactical weapon could quickly spiral out of control into global destruction.
“I don’t think there is any such a thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.
Nevertheless, the use of nuclear weapons still remain a scenario. Τhe only thing left is to wait to see if Putin’s desperation leads him to something so disastrous.