How far will a nuclear blast reach? What happens if Putin attacks Kyiv?

Ukraine: Sergiy Kyslytsya on Putin's 'madness' and nuclear threat

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Mr Putin’s shock announcement over the weekend earned him swift and unequivocal condemnation as he pushed Europe to the brink. The looming spectre of nuclear war has left the European geopolitical scene in its tensest state since the Cold War. As Mr Putin becomes increasingly frustrated over his slower than expected invasion, the chances he could escalate the conflict against his targets also rises.

How far could a nuclear blast reach?

Russian forces have penetrated Ukraine up to its capital city Kyiv, where residents have reported explosions since the weekend.

Kyiv is Mr Putin’s ultimate strategic goal, as it would enable him to cut off the country’s central command structure.

That would end the war in his favour and allow him to install a Russia aligned puppet government.

Analysts believe the Russian premier is becoming increasingly unstable, and they fear he could launch a nuclear attack.

Directed at Kyiv, any warhead launched by Russia would have a devastating and far-reaching impact.

Mr Putin has the world’s largest supply of warheads, with a total stockpile of approximately 4,477.

Modern warheads can deliver a payload approximately 20 to 30 times more impactful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, boasting the power of between 300 and 1,000 kilotons (300,000 and one million tonnes of TNT).

The exact effect depends on the size, but each blast will follow the same pattern.

When warheads detonate inside a city, they cause an immediate flash and fireball on impact.

These explosions cover a wide radius, stretching over half a mile in all directions, and vaporising anything in sight.

The exothermic reaction will also throw out a shockwave, blasting any buildings and people not immediately incinerated.

Most people up to five miles outside this vicinity will receive third-degree burns from the heat.


Those six and seven miles away will receive second and first-degree burns.

Anyone who witnesses the explosion up to 53 miles beyond the immediate blast site could experience momentary blindness.

The danger of a nuclear bomb doesn’t end with the initial blast, as fallout follows.

Warheads spread radiation into the upper atmosphere on detonation via the towering mushroom cloud they generate.

Any material pushed into the atmosphere ultimately falls back to earth in a process known as “fallout” that could extend over hundreds of miles to other nations.

Fallout has a more drawn out effect than the process that created it, with radiation sickness.

Exposure attacks the body’s cells, causing gradual deterioration, severe illness and death.

Would Vladimir Putin target the UK?

At present, Mr Putin has extended his threats to NATO countries, not naming any specifically.

He is only likely to directly threaten a nation if they choose to become uniquely provocative, standing out from the crowd.

So far, the UK has fallen in lockstep with allied nations, but the Kremlin has singled out Liz Truss in its reasoning for extending the “special alert”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that statements persuading the country to take the measures came from “various representatives at various levels”.

Branding the statements “completely unacceptable”, he added that he would not call on the authors by name.

But he did identify the “British foreign minister” as one of them.

Ms Truss responded quickly, doubling down with new sanctions, including freezing assets of three more Russian banks and barring them from clearing payments in sterling.

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