United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month that “the prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.”
Here is how Russia’s chain of command would work in the event of a nuclear weapon launch
Who decides to launch Russian nuclear weapons?
A 2020 document called “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence” says the Russian president takes the decision to use nuclear weapons.
A small briefcase, known as the Cheget, is kept close to the president at all times, linking him to the command and control network of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.
The Cheget does not contain a nuclear launch button but rather transmits launch orders to the central military command – the General Staff.
If Putin gives the nuclear order, what happens?
The Russian General Staff has access to the launch codes and has two methods of launching nuclear warheads.
It can send authorisation codes to individual weapons commanders, who then execute the launch procedures.
There is also a back-up system, known as Perimetr, which allows the General Staff to initiate the launch of land-based missiles directly, bypassing all the immediate command posts.