Putin 'will use nuclear weapons if facing defeat' says expert
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Threats and worries of nuclear war have ramped up since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, heightened by direct references to such conflict by the Kremlin. But if the unthinkable were to happen, the UK does not have the same ‘Doomsday’ plane as the US or the horrifying ‘dead hand’ system as the Russian regime.
Professor Andrew Futter, an international relations expert at the University of Leicester, told Express.co.uk the US’s ‘Doomsday’ plane will “allow the President or whoever survives to be able to organise a nuclear response to an attack”.
The US’s ‘Doomsday’ plane, as it is nicknamed, is officially the E-4B ‘Nightwatch’, or part of the National Airborne Operations Center.
Adapted Boeing-747 aircraft, they are designed to house the US military’s most senior officials in the case of a nuclear event.
The ‘Doomsday’ plane is believed to have cost around $223million, originally sketched out in the Cold War era.
The triple-decker plane can carry up to 112 crew members for 12 hours without stopping to refuel.
But the flight time comes with a hefty price tag of $160,000 per hour to keep the ‘Doomsday’ plane in the air.
The aircraft is also kitted out with anti-radiation mesh on the windows, plus specially-fortified wiring and nuclear shielding.
But, according to Professor Futter, there’s a chance Russia may have “something similar”, which could complement its terrifying “dead hand system”.
This mechanism “is based on signals transmitted from a series of rockets that could be fired if the Russian leadership was killed”, he explained.
Professor Futter ominously added: “As far as I am aware, the UK doesn’t have this capability – ‘nuclear war’ would be conducted from a bunker under Whitehall and from the submarine on patrol.”
Moscow’s “dead hand” system was developed during the Cold War and was reportedly upgraded to maximise its capacity for a retaliatory nuclear strike.
Also given the name ‘Perimeter’, the Russian nuclear network could still launch a countering nuclear attack if top Russian military chiefs were taken out through an automatic response.
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In 2011, Russian commander, Sergei Karakaev, admitted the Cold War relic “exists today – she is on combat duty”.
He added: “When the need arises for a retaliatory strike, when there is no way to bring a signal to some part of the launchers, this command can come from these missiles from the Perimeter.”
But the UK does not have any identifiable ‘Doomsday’ aircraft or ‘dead hand’ protocol, although Putin may have a similar plane readily available to him in Moscow.
The Ilyushin Il-80 was spotted in recently-released footage flying over the Russian capital, although Russian officials insisted the plane’s presence was part of Victory Day celebrations,
But Putin has made several threats of nuclear conflict to the Western countries condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last month, the Russian leader said Moscow would respond “lightning fast” to military intervention in Ukraine by the likes of the UK, US, or NATO allies.
He told Russian politicians: “If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast.
“We have all the tools for this, things no one else can boast of having now.
“And we will not boast, we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that.”
Echoing a similar message, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the “risks now are considerable,” but the Kremlin still hoped to avert nuclear strikes.
He added: “I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real.
“And we must not underestimate it.”
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