(NewsNation Now) — As the crisis in Ukraine deepens, it’s important to consider what the actual consequences of war there might be.
Right now, U.S. officials estimate the fighting could kill up to 50,000 civilians, 25,000 Ukrainian military personnel and 10,000 Russian soldiers. These figures assume only conventional weapons are used.
With so much unknown about what happens next, echoes of the Cold War are causing some to think about Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal.
Under normal circumstances, former National Security Council official Jon Wolfsthal says it would be unlikely under normal circumstances.
“These are not normal circumstances,” Wolfsthal said. “And the greatest risk of the use of a nuclear weapon comes from a smaller conflict escalating quickly in the fog of war. When countries are using cyber-attacks, when they’re trying to degrade each other’s conventional capabilities, which also support nuclear capabilities.”
Russia reminded the world of its nuclear arsenal over the weekend with nuclear weapons tests overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia leads the world with 6,200 nuclear weapons. The U.S. has 5,600. The weapons of mass destruction can kill hundreds of thousands of people at once.
On Friday, President Biden batted down Putin’s nuclear tests.
“I don’t think he is remotely contemplating nuclear, using nuclear weapons,” Biden said.
In January, Russia was among five nuclear powers, including the U.S., making a joint statement saying a nuclear war “must never be fought.”
Wolfsthal says when it comes to nukes, he expects Putin to be rational.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that he’s suicidal or is eager to initiate the use of nuclear weapons, that doesn’t mean things can’t get out of control,” Wolfsthal said.
In a rambling speech Tuesday, Putin alleged that Ukraine would try to acquire nuclear weapons. Experts say that is false.
Ukraine gave up those weapons in 1994 as part of an agreement that Russia would respect its borders and its sovereignty. Obviously, that is not happening.