Help support TMP

"What happens when Russia uses a nuke in Ukraine?" Topic

42 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please do not use bad language on the forums.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Ultramodern Warfare (2014-present) Message Board

Action Log

19 May 2023 3:15 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "What happens when Russia uses a nuke in Ukraine" to "What happens when Russia uses a nuke in Ukraine?"

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

Amazon's Santa with Gun Pack

You wanted more photos of the Santa Claws Gang? Here is Santa and two of his companions.

Featured Book Review

1,668 hits since 19 May 2023
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 2:34 a.m. PST

It seems likely that we need to prepare for a world in which when, not if, Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine .

I'm linking an article on the increasing signs of this happening.

Assuming this occurs, what will be the most likely realistic consequences?

jeffbird19 May 2023 2:45 a.m. PST

Moscow vapourized, I would imagine.

Striker19 May 2023 3:12 a.m. PST

NATO threatens intervention, saber rattling. Some kind of strikes but I highly doubt any NATO nuke response would happen. I'm curious how many who are in the arming Ukraine camp would stand up when asked who wanted a nuclear exchange.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian19 May 2023 3:15 a.m. PST

Does Russia have significant chemical or biological weapons these days?

Umpapa19 May 2023 4:21 a.m. PST

Ruskies may use some tacnukes which do not give them victory. In such scenario China and India will got very VERY angry since they do not have as many nukes as Russia and on the nuclear battlefield their relative power is minor. And China verbatim forbade Russia using nukes.
Breaking nuclear taboo. In the past nuclear powers had been losing wars against nonnuclear countries: Afganistan, Vietnam, Korea etc and they had never used nukes. However breaking nuclear taboo changes everything. If You (as nonnuclear country) are winning conventional war against nuclear power and it can use nukes to stop You from winning, then the only solution is You must have own nukes.
It means nukes proliferation on mass scale. Ukraine/Poland, Germany, Turkya, Arabia, Korea, Japan and Taiwan will develop nukes. Not a chance for succesful China invasion of Taiwan then, so they go for Siberian Peoples Republic.

It would mean that after the war Russias remnants nukes are under international control. It would push for decolonialization of Russia eg dissolution of Federation.

So yeah, go for that Russkies.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 4:30 a.m. PST

Haven't a few people in TMP hinted this as a possibility since the beginning of this war? It seems those people took a lot of criticism from some and were even accused of being supporters of Russia.

This has always been a possibility. You have to ask: "Will Putin and those in power, allow Russia to absorb a loss?"

They might claim victory if they hold on to the original areas they initially started after and Putin use that to save face. But that was never Putin's initial goal.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa19 May 2023 4:45 a.m. PST

China's problem with devaluing the use of nuclear weapons is they have a fairly small arsenal – which they may feel compelled to increase the size of… This will be expensive and may well derail the upgrading of their conventional military.

As to the OP. Really, not convinced. If Putin was going to go off the deep end it would have happened last year. A tactical weapon, as suggested, is likely to do nothing apart from p-- the Ukrainian's off and give the West the political excuse to turn the military aid taps on full-bore. Based on Russia's seeming inability to target anything other than static strategic targets with its conventional cruise and ballistic missile arsenal. I'd hazard a likely outcome is a small area of glassed country-side, a former Ukrainian brigade assembly area, which they probably moved off from 2 or 3 days earlier…. Unfortunately given this the Russian's may well decide to target a 'strategic target' which would probably be some small city that has the misfortune to be near the frontline on the Ukrainian supply lines regardless of any actually military value.

Actual fallout from a tactical weapon would probably relatively minor. For context Chernobyl put several hundred times the radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb into the atmosphere. But watch the media and the public go off the deep end nonetheless.

Geo-politically the fence sitters and Putin-stroker's would almost certainly thin out still further.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa19 May 2023 4:50 a.m. PST

Also bear in mind that Putin is probably already on thin-ice with Xi. What Putin conceptually set up with the separatist areas holding 'referendums' to cede from their sovereign state, Ukraine, is not a scenario that the Chinese leadership is terribly comfortable with…

Inch High Guy19 May 2023 5:10 a.m. PST

Despite Putin's sabre rattling, Russia wants to take Ukraine, not nuke it. If it starts to appear likely that Russia is seriously contemplating using nukes, Russia might be quietly informed that the latest shipment of Western aid has included nukes with blue and yellow stickers on them.

Ukraine gave up their nukes in the 1990s in exchange for Russian promises to respect their borders. It appears that deal is off.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 6:11 a.m. PST

I've often wondered about this and have been mentioning it here and there for the past few months. If a Ukrainian counteroffensive was successful in an area, does Russia use a tac-nuke against the spearhead? I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility considering everything else that has been going on in this war. Of course, the big question then becomes, "What happens next?" The USA and UK have been leading the charge for NATO intervention, meaning they would in all probability want to respond with tac-nukes of their own. This is where I believe the coalition falls apart. If Russia says that any response will immediately cause an escalation where for example, Brussels, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, and several other cities get nuked, I think support for Ukraine goes right out the window. It would be a huge gamble by Russia, but it might work.

Soldat19 May 2023 7:14 a.m. PST

mushroom cloud

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 7:33 a.m. PST

If Putin used a tac nuke(s), he would be playing his last trump card. With no other opinions. He must know he would have shot his last round. The rest would not be good for him or Russia. He will lose more support by the world/UN, etc. It would put him/Russia even more behind the 8 ball, IMO.

mjkerner19 May 2023 7:35 a.m. PST

Moscow and St. Petersburg get turned into glass, hopefully.

SBminisguy19 May 2023 8:07 a.m. PST

Haven't a few people in TMP hinted this as a possibility since the beginning of this war? It seems those people took a lot of criticism from some and were even accused of being supporters of Russia.

This has always been a possibility. You have to ask: "Will Putin and those in power, allow Russia to absorb a loss?"

Indeed. I feel that Crimea, and Sevastopol in particular, is Putin's "dead line." If he gives up Sevastopol he gives up all pretense of being a global power. I think he'd use tacnukes to keep it from falling.

Not sure at that point what happens, if NATO feels it needs to use a tacnuke in response – even though Ukraine isn't a NATO country? IT would certainly have to threaten to do so to try and deter more Russian tacnukes. Russia's already a global economic outcast, so we can't use that tool. Not sure -- except that mjkerner's response is a bad idea.

Moscow and St. Petersburg get turned into glass, hopefully.

No. You don't. Because then that means that EVERY major Western US and European city gets turned to glass.

Russia has ICBMs. Lots of them. One SS-18 can drop MIRVs with 750kt warheads onto x10 different targets. As reminder – Hiroshima was "only" about 15kt. So one SS-18 warhead is the equivalent of x50 Hiroshima bombs going off at once.

Why would you hope for that?

Umpapa19 May 2023 8:15 a.m. PST

But in every Western city there is Russian general/oligarch child. So there is no chance for atomic war.

Cuprum219 May 2023 8:30 a.m. PST

And why tactical nuclear weapons? It will not solve anything – it will only aggravate the situation.
If nuclear weapons are used, it will be a global nuclear attack.

shadoe0119 May 2023 8:54 a.m. PST

Strangely I find myself agreeing with cuprum2. LoL

1) I doubt Crimea can easily be taken by force. One possibility for a peace agreement would be a Crimean (another) vote for their own future.

2) there is a lot of value if the threat of use versus actual use. In fact the value of deterrence (threat of use) is suddenly devalued for all countries with nuclear weapons. The taboo once broken is broken for everyone not just Putin.

3) the world not just Ukraine and the West will need to respond strongly or else be ready to concede sovereignty to Putin (not Russia the individual Putin) since giving in once means you need to be prepared to give in again and again and again. Each concession will embolden Putin and increase his personal power. Then all of us (West, East, North and South) will become servants of Lord Putin. Yeah, at some point nuclear powers might say enough but each concession actually increases the likelihood of a civilization ending war.

4) supposedly it takes only 2-3 months to build a nuclear bomb – if you have the materials.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 10:02 a.m. PST

Don't see it happening. If Putin was going to use nukes of any kind he would have done so by now. There are stories of peace talks coming out.

Heedless Horseman Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 10:22 a.m. PST

I very much doubt any Tactical Nukes. But, from what I've heard, there were small, 'Siutcase' nukes around… and some went 'missing'. 'That' could very well happen… especially if Nuke plant or armoury, nearby, to be blamed.

JMcCarroll19 May 2023 11:33 a.m. PST

The West declares Ukraine now has Nukes and it is there choice on how to use them. Deniability for the West and Ukraine holds an ace in there hand.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 1:06 p.m. PST

NATO response? I'd guess a pretty significant conventional response- good bye Russian fleet, goodbye Russian airforce and airfields

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP19 May 2023 1:14 p.m. PST

Agreed, the chance of Putin ordering nukes to be used cannot be completely ignored. But, as some have pointed out, short of him just embracing the idea of Global Nuclear War, what would tac nukes actually achieve?

They were developed to destroy key sites and troop concentrations, not just drop on a trench line. Psychologically, Kiyv, Odesa, and Lviv might be considered "key sites," but the destruction of these would not directly affect Ukraine's war fighting capability. The Ukes do not rely on their "industrial base" for their weapons and supplies as these largely come from the West (and much other materiel captured from the enemy).

Killing hundreds of men with a tac nuke burst would not affect the war militarily, but would certainly unite the Ukrainians ever more tightly and, inevitably, coarsen an already bitter war. Putin could expect the wholesale execution of Russian prisoners, and their troops in the field would KNOW they would no longer be taken alive. Not that Putin has any such concern, but the Russian people and the remaining Mobiks do.

And, then, let's consider the question of how would such a strike be delivered, if not where?

"Bear" bombers, etc, are not going to fly over the target and drop one--they'd be shot down almost immediately, as were the only such large aircraft at the very start of the war. Missiles (Khinzal, Kaliber, Toss, etc) would certainly be the preferred means, but with the deployment of the Patriot, NASAMS, and a myriad of other systems, the likelihood of scoring the desired hit would be minimal. Indeed, the only way to maximize the chances of getting one hit on a chosen target would be to launch almost as many missiles with nuke warheads as they may have left.

Deciding to use "A Nuke" is one thing, but to immediately commit to launching ten, twenty, thirty to ensure any hits at all is another.

Of course, a tac nuke could be delivered by truck, or as we've been reminded here, via "suitcase nuke" left over from the 80's. But the problem here is getting far enough away from their own lines to maximize loses on the Ukes and not themselves.

The only other option would be to use ICBM's which, even if only with their MIRV's switched out for tac nukes, would be an even more provocative act. And, as I and many others have mentioned before, there would be the questions of just how reliable those missiles are after years of neglect and the utter corruption of their military-industrial complex, and whether some officer down the chain of command from Putin would even carry out the order.

Russian troop morale is already in the basement. Add to the horrors they already face from their enemy--and the absolutely criminal conduct of their officer corps which they have no faith in already--the prospect of being nuked themselves would surely be the last straw.

Also, let's not forget, that as former NATO Commander, Ben Hodges, repeatedly stresses, the word has already been given to Moscow that any such violation of the nuclear taboo would result not in counter strikes in kind, but the unleashing of a conventional blitz of every other weapon in the Western arsenal targeting every significant military asset in theater. To wit, the elimination of every floating asset of the Black Sea Fleet, the destruction of every airfield in Crimea and the so called "Republics," and a concentrated attack on every rail road bridge and marshalling yard, if not every yard of track, of the vital rail system.

In such an event, there would be no need, or likely even temptation, to commit NATO ground forces. The Russian Army in Ukraine would be helpless in a few days, even hours.

Further, the West's commitment to Ukraine would immediately be boosted by Russian nuke use to levels as yet undreamed of. Not a country on the planet could approve of such an act, nor even abstain from virulent criticism. I mean, even (if not especially) Iran, North Korea and China don't want to see the "taboo" broken since, after all, they could be next.

The word of a nuclear strike to Ukraine would not embolden or unify the Russian public, either. Nothing could frighten them more than the prospect that nukes might actually be used on them. Not because they are cowardly, but because, if anything, it would sober them up "toot sweet." How does anyone think the US or any Western nuclear power's people would react if their government used nukes first?

That Putin is desperate is pretty clear, as it has been for some time. That he must be casting about left and right for something to, if not retrieve the whole adventure, give him an out by a "Peace With Dignity" is a given. Yet, even if he personally does not see how going nuclear could (literally?) blow up in his face, I think even the Orcs that surround him do.

Please, God, may I be right in all this.


Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 1:24 p.m. PST

I think 20thmaine probably has it. There's really no way there would be a direct retaliation against a Russian city by the US or Nato as that would invite global thermonuclear war. As stated, Russia has a lot of nukes, and all of them make Hiroshima look like a firecracker.

No one sane wants that.

I think, as the article points out, that if Putin sees an ultimate redline crossed, he might use a tac nuke in a semi-rural location, village or town. I don't see him using a nuke against a larger city like Kiev, but I bet he assumes a tac nuke (or a few) he'd be able to get away with, at least to some extent, since how do you retaliate to that without escalating?

Russia has several missile platforms capable of handling nuclear missiles for short and medium range use.

I also agree that this cannot stand as it would invite others to accept nuclear weapon usage inch by inch, (a tac nuke here, a tac nuke there and pretty soon you are talking real fallout) and the world after that is a pretty scary and uncomfortable place to live in.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 1:49 p.m. PST

Nuclear weapons would not solve Putin's problems only add to them. China and India would go from vaguely neutral to on the Ukraine side. NATO might do a shock and awe on certain Russian targets using only conventional weapons, perhaps those cities in occupied territories. Perhaps Ukraine would get a few submarines and Turkey would allow them into the Black Sea.

China would stand by for the right moment to invade Siberia, to "help" Ukraine.

Japan, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea and Germany would assemble the nuclear weapons I suspect they may already have.

Other nations would begin large nuclear building plans.

How about a joint French / German / Spanish / Italian nuclear program?

Maybe a Nordic bomb with Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden putting a few nukes together?

And maybe someone mentions to Russia that Ukraine is under someone else's nuclear umbrella, or that Ukraine now has a few nuclear weapons?

There is just nothing good that will happen for Russia to use nuclear weapons unless a Ukrainian Tank Division was 50 km outside of Moscow.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Alpha Decay19 May 2023 3:26 p.m. PST

I seriously doubt Russia will use nuclear weapons if and until they use chemical weapons. The application of non-persistent nerve agent would have (and still can) quickly dislodge the defenders of Bakmut, especially during the initial application since I don't see the defenders equipped with chemical warfare gear or detection equipment in their fighting positions. Persistent chemical agents (blister or nerve) upon the major supply routes into Ukraine would significantly or completely disrupt NATOs ability to ship weapons into the theater. Russia, in the guise of the former Soviet Union was the world's premier chemical warfare-prepared military, even in their depleted state, they are almost certainly more prepared than a NATO-backed Ukraine, especially if they control the first-use timing and location. Chemical weapons use has occurred many times since World War II and not triggered any response, certainly not the pearl-clutching that nuclear weapons seem to engender on The Miniatures Page board or in the world in general.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 4:39 p.m. PST

On the BBC it was said last night that Putin is trying to maintain the status quo in Ukraine and simply avoid losing.
The rationale for this being ' They are hoping for a change of US president where a possible President Trump 2nd term may go for a quick forced peace accord on current lines'

Not sure myself tho'

smithsco19 May 2023 5:54 p.m. PST

I'd be more concerned about a dirty bomb. You could contaminate an area, create a buffer zone to prevent a successful advance and have some level of deniability. Nobody in the west will believe it wasn't them. But they will claim it wasn't. It's an escalation but applying the same principle as the "little green men" in 2014

JSchutt19 May 2023 6:46 p.m. PST

You will only have a few seconds to think about it regardless of who starts it. At least the warmongers that contribute to the event won't be around to gloat about it…..

SBminisguy19 May 2023 8:05 p.m. PST

At least the warmongers that contribute to the event won't be around to gloat about it…..

Nah, most of them are millionaires or at least connected into billionaires like Gates and Zuckerberg with their own apoc-bunkers…they'll be fine…until their low paid security forces say, "Hey, Zuckerberg's a dillwad and I have a gun!!"

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2023 4:30 a.m. PST

NATO has already made clear that using nuclear weapons in Ukraine will provoke a physical response. At the very least sinking the entirety of the Black Sea fleet.


ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa20 May 2023 5:14 a.m. PST

Avoid loosing

Isn't a great strategy, the Russian military still largely just conscripts waiting to be roflstomped, and arguably neither is playing for time… Putin's only partly reliable in-theatre ally is 'looking his age' shall we say. Politicians and public opinion are mercurial at the best of times and some individuals are extremely mercurial.

Putin clearly will consider the use of WMD assuming he can maintain plausible deniability but I think that's the rub. If he was going to continence that stunt I think it would have already been done.

The Russian Army in Ukraine would be helpless in a few days, even hours.

I'd go with hours once the go is given. By a lot of estimates they're not exactly in the best of states as it is. I reckon we could also add to that much of the Russian air force dropping out the sky.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2023 11:27 a.m. PST

At least the warmongers that contribute to the event won't be around to gloat about it…..

FWIW – ID the warmongers that contributed to the event ?

nickinsomerset20 May 2023 11:33 a.m. PST

"At least the warmongers that contribute to the event won't be around to gloat about it"

Who Putin? If I go to JSchuts house, give him a kicking, steal hi wargames figures, are people who come to his aid warmongers, or just a range of Foundry fantasy figures (there, finally managed to bring wargames into the topic!)

Tally Ho!

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2023 8:09 p.m. PST

nick +1

optional field +1

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 12:00 a.m. PST

An alarming question. The possible disaster scenarios are endless and none of them are anything we'd want to see. The entire globe is at risk if this escalation goes on and on and who got to vote on being a hostage in this way? A fight between Russia and Ukraine means a zero-sum, kamikaze attitude by the other major powers? Who gave them the right to decide the fate of the world?

At least in 1962 leaders in that crisis had the wisdom to back off from a confrontation that could have led to a nuclear exchange that would have benefited no one but cockroaches. Where is the urgency now to bring about negotiations to end this war before it becomes more uncontrollable?

When the Arab-Israeli wars threatened to upend the status quo, the major powers worked together to bring the fighting to an end, no matter who was seen as a "winner" or "loser." Settlements took place afterward. Why isn't this course being taken now? Why is the UN so ineffective and the Europeans so supine? Cui bono? Arms manufacturers? Old school Cold Warriors?

We should ask the hard questions and forego the cheerleading and vicarious thrills.

New article on this issue: link

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa21 May 2023 2:29 a.m. PST

As far as I'm aware the only real instance where the two major powers of the time took a unified position in the Middle East was when Britain and France decided to get involved in 1957. Pretty much any other time Israel had just finished stomping on various Arab militaries and basically it was a tidying up operation. We never got find out what would have happened if either side had not accepted victory or defeat.

I'd also note that public support for Ukraine remains relatively high in Europe, the US and other Western aligned countries.

The West has largely positioned itself as defending the Ukrainians right to self determination. There is also, its fair to say, a broad range of opinion. Any attempt at the moment to coerce the Ukrainians to accept some kind of peace deal would be seen as betrayal by some. What could be done the US or EU establishing a separate peace for Ukraine? That would work out well!

Griefbringer21 May 2023 3:22 a.m. PST

Why is the UN so ineffective

Might this have something to do with the five permanent members of the security council having veto powers?

New article on this issue

Isn't that the same article that was linked in the first post? Did you accidentally copy a wrong link?

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 10:04 a.m. PST

As I posted on another thread here –

I remember on FTXs, we'd operate in MOPP4 for 6-8 hrs. or more. The S3 Ops Sec. would have a chart in the TOC. It would track the number of Rads each unit was exposed to. IIRC, when a unit hit 60 Rads, they no longer could be deployed in an irradiated area. Each Co. had Radiac Meters for each PLT. And a Giger Counter.

The PLTs would send to the Co. CP the number of rads in the areas they were moving thru.

I wonder if they'd actually have pulled us out when we hit 60 Rads ? In irradiated areas. If we survived, we'd probably die of cancer, etc. anyway a few years later. If you could even live with the effects of a nuclear war.

So, yeah this tossing nukes around would be a real hoot !

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa21 May 2023 11:34 a.m. PST

Well in the middle of combat I don't exactly see people asking for or indeed giving a time out because someones hit their dose limit. On the other hand both sides may well have hit the 'whats the point?' threshold in that situation.

60 rads would be pushing into the area where you'd see an increase in lifetime cancer risk, though not a massive one. But post an actual nuclear war lack of antibiotics and other basics would probably get you waaaaay before cancer… Isn't this a fun topic?

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 8:07 p.m. PST

Yeah … if we hit our dose limit, we'd probably be dead men walking anyway. Afterall we'd be operating in a nuclear wonderland. ☠☠☠☠☠☠

dapeters22 May 2023 12:26 p.m. PST

+1 Nick

Andy ONeill22 May 2023 2:18 p.m. PST

Tac nukes aren't super effective and there would be a response from the west. There's also a fair chance the order would be refused.
So…. relatively small advantage incurring large risk.
It would be a stupid thing to do.

I think it unlikely.

The response might not be nuclear.
Plenty of options available.
On Russian soil.
Then what does Putin do?
He's got no real response left short of mad.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.