Russia has moved more than 100 nuclear warheads into northern waters, just weeks after President Vladimir Putin reportedly threatened to deploy nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the conflict continued.
The massive movement of nuclear weapons was uncovered by the Bureau of Arms Control with the U.S. Department of State, which released the latest exchange of data under the New START treaty.
The data showed that Russia have 1,643 deployed warheads, up from 1,400 a year ago. The list did not show exactly where Russia was moving the nuclear warheads, but Barents Observer noted that most are headed to two Northern fleet submarines.
“Those two alone can hold 192 warheads, but since the increase, according to the official figures, is 131 since last information exchange in March, the two submarines are likely not fully loaded,” the report noted.
Many see Russia’s build-up of nuclear weapons as an aggressive act in the region.
“There is no doubt that the long-lasting period of disarmament now has changed to rearmament,” says Kristian Åtland, Senior Research Fellow with the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment.
The nuclear weapon buildup comes a few weeks after Vladimir Putin reportedly threatened to drop a nuclear weapon on Ukraine.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey wrote on his Facebook page in September that Russia was threatening a nuclear attack if the conflict continues.
“The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance, they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us,” Heletey wrote.
Not long after the nuclear threat from Vladimir Putin, Russia conducted a series of nuclear exercises that included more than 4,000 soldiers and extensive use of air power. The moves come amid growing tension between Russia and the west. The United States has led a coalition of nations enacting economic sanctions, and Putin has responded by mocking them as “utter foolishness” and saying they would do nothing to stop Russia’s economic growth.