In his latest statement on Western policy on the war in Ukraine, Henry Kissinger, who turned 100 last week, warned: “We have now armed Ukraine to a point where it will be the best-armed country with the least strategically experienced leadership in Europe.”
In addition to this explicit criticism of US policy on Ukraine, the famous statesman warned of the potential massive destruction that could occur in the world as a result of pitting a country equipped with the latest weapons yet with a strategically inexperienced leadership against a nuclear power.
Russia has the largest store of nuclear warheads in the world. As the collective West, as embodied in the 32-member NATO, persists in its escalatory arming of Ukraine, we need to bear in mind the risks. Nine countries possess nuclear capabilities: Russia, the US, China, the UK, France, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Together, they possess 12,700 warheads, of which 9,400 are deployable. Russia possesses 5,997 nuclear warheads and the US follows closely behind with 5,428, many of which are strategically positioned across Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The US and Russian arsenals account for 90 per cent of the total nuclear warheads in the world. A portion of these munitions include so-called tactical nuclear weapons of which Russia has 1,912 while the US has a comparable number spread across five European countries. Although tactical nuclear weapons are said to be less destructive, they have explosive yields of around 300 kilotons, or 30 times the force of the atom bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
So when Washington proclaims, as it has done, that the aim of the Ukrainian war is to defeat Russia once and for all, and when the country with the most strategically inexperienced leadership is utilised to accomplish that aim, this poses an imminent existential threat to the entire world.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 1 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.