President Biden’s first State of the Union
address neglected to mention the little fact
that his Ukraine policy has brought the world to
the brink of a thermonuclear holocaust.
On Sunday (February 27, 2022), Russian dictator
Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear forces on
“high alert” or “special alert” or “highest
alert” as variously reported by Russian and
Putin has assumed personal control of the
world’s largest nuclear arsenal in one of his
underground bunkers, of which there are hundreds
in Russia. Some of these are deep underground,
shielded beneath hundreds of meters of granite,
so large they can accommodate thousands of
Russian elites, and impervious to nuclear
The Biden Administration and their media allies
are desperately trying to cover-up the greatly
elevated nuclear threat from Russia, dismissing
Putin’s threats as “bluster” and “saber
rattling.” Biden’s Defense Department falsely
claims there are no signs of “muscle movement”
indicating that Russian forces are mobilizing
for nuclear war.
After the Afghanistan debacle, the Biden
Administration does not want to admit to America
that they have blundered into a possible nuclear
war over Ukraine—where the U.S. has no vital
national interests at stake.
Blundering Toward Nuclear War
In fact, thanks to Biden’s Ukraine policies, the
U.S. and NATO now face the gravest nuclear
threat since the Cuban missile crisis.
Biden “drew a line in the sand” over Ukraine,
threatening grave consequences, mobilizing NATO
to arm Ukraine and project forces to Eastern
Europe, staking U.S. superpower credibility on
After Russia’s invasion, Biden enacted economic
sanctions that he promised the White House Press
Corps would be as damaging to Russia as attacks
by tanks and missiles, and authorized B-52
nuclear bombers to fly, for the first time ever,
--Before invading Ukraine, Russia performed a
major nuclear forces “exercise” called Grom
(Thunder). Unusually, Grom simulated nuclear
strikes in the Arctic Ocean near Finland,
Sweden, and Norway, too close for comfort.
Consistent with Russian military doctrine, these
exercises were to warn the West and almost
certainly mobilized Russian nuclear forces for
--Russia reportedly has flushed
to the field at least its Yars mobile ICBMs that
can strike both the U.S. and Europe.
--Russia reportedly has deployed at least some
of its missile submarines and attack submarines
--Dictator Putin’s self-deployment to a nuclear
bunker is itself compelling evidence of a real
nuclear crisis, since most Russian nuclear
weapons can be launched in a few minutes as they
are on Constant Combat Readiness.
Russian Nuclear Forces Mobilization
Russia’s mobilization for nuclear war is
officially defined by four ascending readiness
CONSTANT COMBAT READINESS: Normal everyday
readiness when there is no threat of war.
INCREASED COMBAT READINESS: Increased readiness
(C3I) and partial mobilization of nuclear forces
when there is elevated risk of nuclear war.
THREAT OF WAR READINESS: All nuclear forces
mostly or fully mobilized because there is
imminent threat of nuclear war.
FULL COMBAT READINESS: All nuclear forces are
fully ready and/or engaged in combat operations
waging nuclear war.
Today, Russian nuclear forces are at least at
Increased Combat Readiness and possibly Threat
of War Readiness. Most Russian strategic
warheads are on ICBMs and SLBMs (even Russian
SLBMs are intercontinental missiles that can
strike the U.S. launching from port) with
secure C3—so Russia can mobilize most of its
strategic nuclear forces secretly.
Russia’s strategic nuclear posture is optimized
for surprise attack by relying most heavily on
ICBMs that even normally have very high (over
95%) Constant Combat Readiness, secure C3 for
secret mobilization, and only four mobilization
levels so they can beat the U.S. to the “nuclear
Most Russian strategic nuclear warheads are on
ICBMs that, even at their lowest readiness
condition (Constant Combat Readiness) can be
launched in minutes—whereas most U.S. strategic
nuclear warheads are on non-alert submarines in
port and non-alert bombers that need to be
generated. Thus, Russia has a very significant
advantage over the U.S. in numbers of strategic
warheads that can be launched on short-notice.
Forces Not Mobilizing
In contrast, the U.S. strategic nuclear posture
is more transparent, eschews surprise attack for
“strategic stability” by relying least heavily
on ICBMs, most heavily on missile submarines
that normally are mostly in port and are all
armed with SLBMs of intermediate-range (so they
have to go to sea in order to reach Russia), and
non-alert strategic bombers that can fully
mobilize in three days.
Where Russian nuclear forces have four
mobilization levels, U.S. nuclear forces have
five mobilization levels, called “Defense
Readiness Condition” or DEFCON levels:
DEFCON 5: Normal everyday readiness when there
is no threat of war.
DEFCON 4: Increased intelligence surveillance of
adversaries and increased base security.
DEFCON 3: Mobilization of nuclear forces for
DEFCON 2: Nuclear forces ready for war in less
than 6 hours.
DEFCON 1: All nuclear forces are fully ready
and/or engaged in combat operations waging
Today, Russian nuclear forces are probably at
the U.S. equivalent of DEFCON 3 or DEFCON 2,
which is very rare in history, occurring only
during such major events as the 1956 Suez
Crisis, 1958 Berlin Crisis, 1962 Cuban Missile
Crisis, 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1973
Yom Kippur War, 1983 Able Archer NATO nuclear
exercise, and 1991 Soviet coup attempt against
Premier Gorbachev, for example.
Today, U.S. nuclear forces are not mobilized,
are at their normal everyday state of readiness:
Nuclear Crisis Coverup
President Biden and the Pentagon are telling the
press that the U.S. has not increased its DEFCON
level because there is no nuclear crisis with
Russia. Yet the Pentagon has just canceled a
Minuteman III ICBM test launch to “de-escalate”
the crisis that supposedly does not exist.
DEFCON 5 may be prudent, to avoid escalating
Ukraine into a nuclear war with Russia—but it
also makes the U.S. more vulnerable to surprise
Historically, when Moscow mobilizes nuclear
forces, the U.S. also mobilizes to deter them.
During the Cuban missile crisis, President
Kennedy mobilized U.S. nuclear forces to DEFCON
2, making Moscow retreat from Cuba—and told the
truth to America and the world about the
imminent nuclear threat.
Maybe Putin and Biden are both crazy. But Putin
is better postured to win a nuclear war.
Although punishing Russia for invading Ukraine
seems like a moral imperative justifying Western
military intervention, the U.S. and NATO have no
vital interests at stake in Ukraine that would
justify risking a major conventional or nuclear
war with Russia. U.S. and NATO supreme national
and international interests dictate
non-intervention to avoid a nuclear war over
Retaliatory measures to punish Russian
aggression, that would be far more painful and
productive than the feather of economic
sanctions and a policy of fighting until the
last brave Ukrainian, include the following:
--Crash program to harden the U.S. electric grid
and other critical infrastructures from EMP and
Cyber Warfare. Much could be accomplished in
one year to protect the American people from
these existential threats that are the key to
quick victory over the U.S. in the military
doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea, and
--Crash program to deploy space-based missile
defenses, like Brilliant Pebbles (deployable in
5 years for $20 billion) that could render
obsolete the nuclear missiles of Russia, China,
North Korea, and Iran, and greatly diminish
their capability to engage in nuclear blackmail.
--Crash program to accelerate the modernization
of the U.S. nuclear Triad, now mostly planned
for the 2030s, to catch-up with Russia, that has
already modernized its Triad.
--Crash program to catch-up with Russia in
development of advanced technology nuclear
weapons (where the U.S. is 30 years behind),
even if abandonment of the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT) and resumption of nuclear
testing is necessary, since Russia and China
have already violated the CTBT with low-yield
--Crash program to re-arm U.S. ICBMs with
multiple warheads (they originally carried
multiple warheads, but were reduced to single
warheads for reasons of arms control and
“strategic stability”) to close the gap with
Russia in numbers of nuclear warheads that can
be launched on short-notice.
--Crash program to greatly increase U.S.
tactical nuclear weapons from the present 180
gravity bombs to 2,000 or more warheads for U.S.
air, sea, and land forces to match at least the
lowest estimated number of Russia’s tactical
nuclear weapons (2,000-8,000).
--The new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review should not
weaken the credibility of the U.S. nuclear
deterrent: by advocating a nuclear “No First
Use” policy or differently worded variants
thereof; should not ban U.S. ICBMs or oppose
replacement of the aged Minuteman III with a new
ICBM; should not ban nuclear-armed strategic
bombers; should not ban new nuclear-armed SLCMs,
ALCMs, and other strategic or tactical nuclear
missiles; should support development of U.S.
nuclear hypersonic warheads for strategic
missiles (current U.S. hypersonic weapons under
development are non-nuclear for theater or
tactical use) like hypersonic warheads for ICBMs
now deployed by Russia; and should not pretend
that conventional weapons are a credible
substitute for nuclear weapons. Unfortunately,
the Biden Administration is seriously
considering going in the wrong direction on all
of the above in their Nuclear Posture Review,
which may be another reason they do not want to
admit blundering into a nuclear crisis with
Ukraine is an object lesson in what happens when
the strategic balance tilts against the West.
Avenge Ukraine by remembering the strategy of
“Peace Through Strength” that won the Cold War
against the USSR peacefully, and can again
deliver victory in the New Cold War against
Russia and China—peacefully.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Executive Director of
the Task Force on National and Homeland
Security, served as Chief of Staff of the
Congressional EMP Commission, Director of the
U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, and on the staffs
of the Congressional Strategic Posture
Commission, the House Armed Services Committee,
and the CIA. He is author of the books Will
America Be Protected? (2022), Blackout
Warfare (2021), and The
Power And The Light (2020).