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Originally published March 20 2015

Threat of global nuclear war now even higher than during the Cold War

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Despite the fact that the Cold War ended nearly a quarter of a century ago, the threat of nuclear war is higher today as it was back then, geopolitical analysts and political scientists said at a recent security gathering in Germany.

A confluence of events has brought renewed tension between the world's two biggest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, and it is making a lot of Washington's allies -- especially those in Europe -- nervous.

Russia's "annexation" of Crimea and its sponsorship of a rebellion in one of its neighbors and former Soviet republics, Ukraine, has led to economic sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union, but that only seems to have emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian bombers -- some with nuclear payloads -- have increasingly menaced European nations while repeatedly testing U.S. air defenses in recent months.

Also, Russian warships have been spotted near the United Kingdom while Russian navy submarines are boosting patrols U.S. coastal waters.

Widening divide

All of this renewed Cold War-era behavior between the historic rivals is taking its toll. Trust between Moscow and Washington appears to be growing, despite a pledge to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations by President Obama early in his first term. As noted by German magazine Der Spiegel, in its online editions:

In November 2014, the Russians announced that they would boycott the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in the United States. In December, the US Congress voted, for the first time in 25 years, not to approve funding to safeguard nuclear materials in the Russian Federation. A few days later, the Russians terminated cooperation in almost all aspects of nuclear security. The two sides had cooperated successfully for almost two decades. But that is now a thing of the past.

In addition, both countries are boosting spending to modernize their nuclear arsenals, and the West's military alliance, NATO, is said to be rethinking its nuclear strategy as well.

Russia's proxy war in Ukraine, say geopolitical strategists, is a major reason why the West is recoiling.

"In Ukraine, more than 5,000 people have been killed, over 10,000 more have been wounded, and 1.2 million have been forced from their homes. If we do not stop the killing and address the mounting divisions in Europe, our generation may claim to have ended the Cold War yet still failed to secure a peaceful future," says a recently published paper by former British Defense Minister Des Browne, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.

At the conference, some European powers were quick to point the finger of blame at Putin's Russia. Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide, for instance, said Russia's aggression should be defined as such, and unambiguously.

"It makes everything more dangerous"

"And it goes without saying that Article 5 of the NATO Treaty applies to such aggression," she pointed out, referencing to the provision of the agreement that requires all members to go to the defense of any member who is attacked.

"The Russian aggression is a direct threat to NATO," British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon seconded.

Officials at the conference alluded to a new form of "hybrid" warfare being utilized by Russia. Moscow has not officially sent uniformed troops into Ukraine but is believed to be providing the rebels there with arms and munitions, while engaging in cyber warfare and propaganda against the Ukrainian government. Many have claimed that Putin has secretly sent soldiers to fight in Ukraine, and he recently admitted to doing so in Crimea despite previous denials.

"It (hybrid warfare) makes everything more dangerous," Nunn said. "It makes tactical nuclear weapons more dangerous, and it makes weapons material more dangerous."

Der Spiegel reported that it was "common knowledge" that about 20 U.S. B61 nuclear bombs are stored at Buchel Air Base in the Eifel region of western Germany, and while the weapons are under U.S. control, "German Tornado fighter jets would drop the bombs in the event of a war."


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