Red Square in Moscow, Russia

2023's Cold War 2.0? A History of Russian Nuclear Weapons

by Matt Collins

The media has recently confirmed that in June of 2023, Russian nuclear weapons were moved into Belarus.

Worryingly, these tactical nuclear weapons may well be intended for potential use in Russia's ongoing conflict with Ukraine. As such, US president Biden has warned that the threat of these tactical nuclear weapons is indeed “real.” And all of this comes after months of escalating rhetoric from Russian president Vladimir Putin on the potential use of Russia's nuclear weapons.

Of course, when it comes to economic might, Russia is merely a shadow of its former self. But the former superpower remains in possession of the world's largest active nuclear stockpile—along with the inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarines, and heavy bombers they'd need for delivery.

For decades, Russia's nuclear stockpile was a practical counterbalance to America's escalating nuclear power. But as Russia's situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, one is left to wonder whether we might soon see the first usage of nuclear weapons in wartime since 1945.

Russian nuclear testing

Russian nuclear testing (Image courtesy of Associated Press)

So today, we're taking a closer look at Russian nuclear weapons. We'll examine their history, their development over the years, and their critical role both during and after the Cold War.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    The Birth of Russian Nuclear Might

  • 02

    The Arms Race Heats Up in the 1950s and 1960s

  • 03

    The USA vs. Cuba: Near Nuclear Confrontation with the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • 04

    Russian Nuclear Technology: From ICBMs to MIRVs

  • 05

    Nuclear Overkill: The Tsar Bomba

  • 06

    The End of the Soviet Union and the Reduction of Russia's Nuclear Stockpile

  • 07

    Russia's Nuclear Arsenal Today

  • 08

    Continuing Evolution with Hypersonic Missiles

  • 09

    A Glimpse at Russia's Active Nuclear Arsenal

  • 10

    Critical CBRN Gear for Surviving a Russian Nuclear Attack

  • 11

    Cold War 2.0?

The Birth of Russian Nuclear Might

The development of Russia's first nuclear weapon was a pivotal moment in world history—marking the emergence of a new nuclear power and ushering in the beginning of the Cold War. All at once, the world was placed on a knife edge of a potential nuclear Armageddon, locking the United States' vast nuclear arsenal into a stalemate that has persisted for nearly three-quarters of a century.

With that said, the Soviet Union's nuclear program had been set into motion even before the devastating bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. In fact, Russian agents within the Manhattan Project served as a vital source of intelligence that helped the Soviet Union to develop nuclear weapons years before they were expected to.

Led by Igor Kurchatov, a brilliant physicist, the Soviet effort aimed to harness the power of the atom for military purposes. His scientists painstakingly studied published works, analyzed the American nuclear bombs' design, and conducted their own experiments to unlock the secrets of atomic fission.

Thus, the Soviet team, aided by espionage networks that acquired classified information from the West, meticulously developed the RDS-1, their first atomic weapon.

Russia’s first nuclear test

Notably, the core of this plutonium implosion-type device underwent extensive design iterations and calculations to achieve a successful detonation–and how.

On August 29, 1949, deep in the wilderness of Kazakhstan at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, the RDS-1 roared to life, marking the first successful Soviet nuclear weapon test.

The explosion yielded an estimated equivalent of 22 kilotons of TNT, 50% more powerful than the "Little Boy" bomb detonated over Hiroshima. The test was covered in the media worldwide, confirming the USSR's entry into the exclusive club of nuclear powersand drawing attention from American rivals.

In particular, American scientists took notice of the bomb’s core mechanism, which was remarkably similar to that of the "Fat Man" bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Amid all this fanfare, the Soviets gained confidence, leading to a shift in foreign policy. Now possessing the ultimate deterrent, the USSR sought to solidify its position as a superpower and project military might on the world stage.

The US’ foreign policy was impacted, too.

Shortly after these first tests, the United States entered the Korean War (1950-1953), fighting what ultimately amounted to a proxy war against Chinese and Russian forces. Interestingly, some historians have argued that the accelerated development of nuclear weapons was a primary deterrent in that conflict—preventing the United States from dropping a second round of nuclear bombs on their opponents.

At the same time, Russia's development of those first nuclear weapons effectively opened Pandora's box—ushering in an arms race that resulted in both sides producing tens of thousands of increasingly dangerous weapons.

The Arms Race Heats Up in the 1950s and 1960s

The following couple of decades represented an era of increasing prosperity for the world's two superpowers (the United States and Russia). Simultaneously, however, they saw the world dashing headlong toward the edge of oblivion.

This sprint began in 1952, when the United States successfully tested the first thermonuclear bomb, the hydrogen bomb. As discussed in a previous article, these bombs are massively destructive.

For some perspective, consider that hydrogen bombs often use traditional nuclear bombs as trigger devices. This meant that the new generation of bombs in the fifties was orders of magnitude more powerful than their technological predecessors—going from kilotons of TNT to megatons.

As such, the breakthrough marked a pivotal moment in the arms race, ushering in a new era of exponentially more destructive weaponry.

Meanwhile, beginning in 1953, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, sought to challenge American supremacy and close the nuclear gap with their superpower rival.

At the same time, the United States' government believed they could overwhelm the Soviets with their superior economy.

Former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev

Former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (Image courtesy of Time Magazine)

It was within this context of technological and economic rivalry that the United States and Soviet Union poured resources into developing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), aiming to achieve an edge in their delivery capabilities.

Everything changed, however, in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite.

This achievement sent shockwaves through the United States, sparking a new dimension of the arms race: the space race. Notably, this competition to dominate space exploration served as a platform for developing and testing advanced missile technologies.

During these pivotal decades, as both superpowers continued to build and improve their nuclear arsenals, the concept of mutual assured destruction (MAD) emerged.

This doctrine posited that a full-scale nuclear exchange would destroy both nations, creating a strategic balance that deterred either side from initiating nuclear conflict. But the concept was only valid if each side possessed enough weapons to completely annihilate the other—and neither side possessed any critical advantage in terms of initiative.

In spite of this theoretical deterrence, militaries and governments did their best to push the world closer to nuclear war–though some politicians attempted to reign things in. After disasters like the Castle Bravo test in the Pacific, for instance, the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 prohibited nuclear testing in the atmosphere, space, and underwater, mitigating the environmental and health risks associated with nuclear tests.

Bans such as this, of course, did little to slow the process of innovations in nuclear weapons technology. Accordingly, both sides miniaturized warheads, improved missile accuracy, and developed multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) capable of carrying multiple warheads. These advancements not only increased destructive capabilities but also raised concerns about the stability of the arms race.

Naturally, this escalating nuclear arms race came at an enormous cost. As both nations devoted significant portions of their budgets to the research, development, and production of nuclear weapons, they diverted tremendous resources from other areas–such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.

It was in this way, then, that the mounting nuclear arms race between Russia and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s brought the world to the brink of catastrophe–with things finally coming to a head in 1962.

The USA vs. Cuba: Near Nuclear Confrontation with the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 saw the world come closer to nuclear Armageddon than at nearly any other point in history.

For context, it had been three years since Fidel Castro's 1959 Cuban Revolution overthrew the US-backed government. Consequently, the American government ended up with a communist regime just ninety miles from its shores. This was incredibly worrying to US leaders, since they regarded communism as an extremely dangerous ideology, fundamentally at odds with their own political and economic system.

Plus, Castro's new government posed some serious strategic challenges.

After the embarrassingly failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev offered to defend Cuba and provide strategic assistance. This would be mutually beneficial, as it provided Khrushchev with an opportunity to place nuclear missiles in the small island nation—a fitting response, in his view, to the US placing missiles near Soviet borders.

Notably, these Cuban-based missiles could strike the United States in a matter of minutes.

It was eighteen months after the US’ failed invasion, then, that American reconnaissance flights obtained photographic evidence revealing Soviet missile installations in Cuba. The presence of medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) capable of carrying nuclear warheads alarmed US officials, as they posed an immediate threat to American cities.

Reconnaissance photos of missiles in Cuba

Reconnaissance photos of missiles in Cuba (Image courtesy of History)

In this moment, then-president John F. Kennedy was faced with a critical decision: relent, or take on Cuba again.

Ultimately, he determined that the Soviet missile presence in Cuba was unacceptable and could not be tolerated. As such, on October 22, 1962, Kennedy announced a naval blockade (termed a "quarantine") around Cuba, halting the delivery of further Soviet military supplies and demanding the removal of existing missiles.

This, of course, escalated tensions.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in intense diplomatic exchanges through various channels, including secret communications between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Both leaders walked a tightrope in dealing with their country's most dangerous enemy.

When Soviet ships approaching the US naval blockade faced the risk of confrontation, the crisis nearly reached a boiling point.

Meanwhile, the United States prepared for military action, considering air strikes and another invasion of Cuba. Amid this pending rematch of the USA vs. Cuba, the world looked on anxiously, and fears of a catastrophic nuclear exchange loomed.

Finally, on October 28, 1962, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union would dismantle the missile installations in Cuba. And, in turn, the United States would remove its own missiles from Turkey.

Thus, the crisis was resolved–and catastrophe averted–as the superpowers realized the grave risks of nuclear escalation, and resolved to establish direct communication channels to prevent future crises.

This newfound emphasis on dialogue led to the creation of a direct hotline between Washington, D.C. and Moscow, to enable swift communication during times of crisis.

As we will discover, however, it did little to slow the evolution of nuclear weaponry.

Russian Nuclear Technology: From ICBMs to MIRVs

The Soviet Union began development of hydrogen bombs very early on. And on August 12, 1953, they successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Joe-4." The explosion yielded an estimated equivalent of 400 kilotons of TNT, inaugurating the Soviet Union's entry into the thermonuclear arms race–a year after the United States.

Andrei Sakharov, often called the "father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb," played a critical role in developing these weapons. He formulated the Sakharov Teller design, which utilized a two-stage process involving a fission primary and a fusion secondary to achieve a high-yield explosion.

Andrei Sakharov pictured with Ronald Reagan (Image courtesy of The Conversation)

Over time, the Soviet Union continued to refine and scale up its hydrogen bomb designs, increasing their yield and portability. In fact, by the late 1950s, the Soviets had developed megaton-class hydrogen bombs capable of producing explosive forces equivalent to millions of tons of TNT.

When Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) were added to the Soviet arsenal in the 1960s, their nuclear capabilities ramped up further. MIRVs allowed a single ballistic missile to carry multiple warheads, each capable of striking separate targets. After entering the atmosphere, the warheads could break away from the larger missile and sail downward to different target areas.

Fielding operational MIRV-equipped missiles, the Soviet Union was an early leader in MIRV technology. For example, the SS-18 Satan, a large ICBM, could carry up to ten independently targeted nuclear warheads.

Notably, the deployment of MIRVs offered the USSR increased precision and flexibility in its nuclear strategy. Rapidly changing the calculus of nuclear war, MIRVed missiles could simultaneously strike multiple targets, overwhelm missile defense systems, and complicate enemy countermeasures, enhancing the Soviets' second-strike capability.

For perspective, a 400-kiloton warhead is twenty-eight times as destructive as the 14-kiloton warhead dropped on Hiroshima.

Later designs became even more powerful. And MIRV technology meant each missile could carry up to ten times the destructive power. For perspective, the Russian nuclear arsenal, at its peak, contained 45,000 nuclear warheads. The sheer magnitude of destructive power held within these warheads is virtually indescribable–and yet, the Soviet Union just kept building more nuclear weapons.

Granted, Russia wasn't the only country stockpiling doomsday devices. It was matched by the American government's fervent race to expand its own growing stockpile of "doomsday devices."

Yet nothing the US has ever built comes close to the monster unleashed by Russia in 1961…

Nuclear Overkill: The Tsar Bomba

Before tactical nuclear weapons, before precision-targeted bombs or battlefield nukes—there was the Tsar Bomba.

The Tsar Bomba was the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated. To this day, it stands as a testament to the extraordinary capabilities of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Note that, at the time, the arms race was all about going bigger. Higher yield, more destructive power. From this perspective, the Soviets continually aimed to develop more powerful nuclear weapons to assert Soviet dominance and deter potential adversaries.

The Tsar Bomba, also known as RDS-220, was designed by a team of Soviet scientists led by the aforementioned physicist Andrei Sakharov. The goal was to create the most powerful nuclear bomb ever conceived. Accordingly, the bomb's design utilized a three-stage fusion-fission-fusion process to achieve an unprecedented yield.

The Tsar Bomba

The Tsar Bomba (Image courtesy of BBC)

As designed, Tsar Bomba yielded approximately 100 megatons (equivalent to 100 million tons of TNT), making it the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. That's over 6,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.

This author struggles to describe that kind of destructive power.

In a bid to illustrate it, however, we tested the effect of an airburst Tsar Bomba over Washington DC (using Alex Wellerstein’s nuke map). To our horror, we discovered that the resulting blast would kill everyone in Capitol City, most everyone in the district, and a large percentage of the folks standing outside in Baltimore—nearly 40 miles away.

Note that the Soviet Union actually tested the Tsar Bomba. Once.

On October 30, 1961, the Tsar Bomba was detonated at the Sukhoy Nos test site on Novaya Zemlya. To minimize the risk of damage to the aircraft, the bomb was dropped by a specially modified Tu-95 bomber from a high altitude. Notably, a massive lead plate was inserted into the interior of the bomb, limiting the reaction and reducing the yield to 50 megatons.

Even so, the detonation of the Tsar Bomba released an unprecedented amount of energy–generating a fireball approximately five miles in diameter, a mushroom cloud reaching a height of about 40 miles, and a shockwave that circled the earth three times.

While the Tsar Bomba was deliberately detonated at high altitude to limit surface damage, it still caused extensive destruction. Indeed, the blast wave shattered windows up to 560 miles away, and the heat generated by the explosion was felt up to 160 miles away. The environmental impact included a significant release of radioactive material.

Primitive as it was, the massive Tsar Bomba represented the pinnacle of the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Its unprecedented power underscored the devastating potential of nuclear weapons and contributed to heightened awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear conflict.

The test played a significant role in shaping subsequent arms control negotiations and fueling disarmament efforts. But it would be thirty more years before the Iron Curtain fell, and Russia's stockpile started shrinking.

The End of the Soviet Union and the Reduction of Russia's Nuclear Stockpile

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 effectively ended the Cold War and radically changed the state of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited the vast nuclear arsenal previously possessed by the USSR. This arsenal included intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and strategic bombers, constituting a significant nuclear threat.

Recognizing the urgency of reducing nuclear stockpiles, Russia negotiated with the United States.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START) marked a significant milestone in these nuclear disarmament efforts. START I, signed in 1991, aimed to reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons in both countries.

Meanwhile, START II, signed in 1993, sought to reduce strategic nuclear arsenals further. It included provisions for eliminating multiple warhead ICBMs and reducing total warhead numbers. However, ratification proved challenging, and it took several years for the treaty to be fully implemented.

Yeltsin and Bush sign START II

Yeltsin and Bush sign START II (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, also known as the Nunn-Lugar Program, was especially crucial in reducing Russia's nuclear stockpile. Initiated in 1991, this US-funded program aimed to assist Russia in securing and dismantling nuclear weapons while preventing their proliferation to other states or non-state actors.

Later, in 2002, the Moscow Treaty was signed between the United States and Russia to further reduce strategic nuclear weapons. It set a limit of 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads for each country by 2012. However, critics argued that the treaty lacked verification mechanisms.

Recognizing the need for further arms control, the United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty in 2010. This treaty imposed further limitations on deployed strategic nuclear weapons and included robust verification measures. It has been crucial in maintaining transparency and stability in the US-Russia nuclear relationship.

Despite progress in reducing nuclear stockpiles, however, numerous challenges still persist.

Political tensions between Russia and the West, disagreements over missile defense systems, and the emergence of new nuclear powers have complicated disarmament efforts. This evolving global security landscape necessitates a renewed focus on multilateral arms control and non-proliferation initiatives.

In the final analysis, the reduction of Russia's nuclear stockpile represents a significant achievement in global nuclear disarmament. But it's still a process—one that takes substantial time and uninterrupted effort on both sides. Following Putin's invasion of the Ukraine and deterioration of his relationships with Western governments, nuclear disarmament has effectively been put on hold–potentially jeopardizing decades of hard-won progress.

Russia's Nuclear Arsenal Today

Despite substantial economic decline in Russia since 1991, the country still remains a major power, particularly in the nuclear sense.

Based on recent estimates, Russia has more active nuclear warheads (at least on paper) than the United States. As of 2021, it is estimated to have approximately 4,490 nuclear warheads, including both strategic and non-strategic (tactical) weapons.

Russia has maintained the Soviet-era triad of strategic nuclear delivery systems, consisting of land-based ICBMs, submarine-launched missiles, and strategic bombers.

Tupolev Tu-95 Bomber

Tupolev Tu-95 Bomber (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The country has also been investing in modernizing its nuclear forces to maintain a credible deterrent and address aging infrastructure. This includes the development of advanced ICBMs, such as the RS-28 Sarmat, and the ongoing upgrades to its submarine-launched ballistic missile systems.

Russia has also begun to develop tactical nuclear weapons.

Estimates suggest that the Russian Federation possesses a significant number of such weapons, potentially ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand warheads. These weapons are deployed on various platforms, including short-range ballistic missiles and aircraft.

Russia's nuclear doctrine emphasizes the role of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against perceived conventional or nuclear threats. With such massive stockpiles of warheads, mutual assured destruction is practically a certainty. But Russia's leaders also believe in "escalating to deescalate." That might mean threatening the use of overwhelming (or nuclear) force to resolve conflicts quickly.

Notably, the latter doctrine has served to muddy the waters between a calculated threat and a genuine warning. Take, for example, Putin's multiple statements over the last year indicating his willingness to use nuclear weapons in response to the evolving war in Ukraine. 

In the end, despite seeing its economy sink from superpower status to being on par with South Korea, Russia's nuclear arsenal remains a cornerstone of its national security strategy, providing a credible deterrent capability.

The country has spent a fortune on the upkeep and modernization of its nuclear forces, which leaves them as a force to be reckoned with in the geopolitical calculations of the twenty-first century.

Continuing Evolution with Hypersonic Missiles

One of Russia's latest nuclear evolutions—perhaps the most pivotal in decades—is the development of hypersonic missiles.

In recent years, Russia has emerged as a frontrunner in developing hypersonic missiles, aiming to harness these weapons' unparalleled speed and maneuverability to gain a tactical advantage. With speeds exceeding Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound), hypersonic missiles pose a significant challenge in terms of tracking and interception due to their extraordinary velocity.

Russia's Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is one of the first proven concepts. Designed to be carried atop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), it can maneuver in the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, rendering existing missile defense systems less effective.

The Avangard was first tested in 2018. Fired from a mobile launcher, the missile traveled thousands of kilometers before striking its target. In doing so, Russia once again reached an important milestone in developing powerful new nuclear weapons.

Russia’s Avangard launch vehicle

Russia’s Avangard launch vehicle (Image courtesy of Radio Free Europe)

Soon after came the Kinzhal, another critical development in Russia's hypersonic arsenal. Able to fly at hypersonic speeds and maneuver to evade enemy defenses, it is an air-launched ballistic missile designed to be carried by fighter aircraft, such as the MiG-31.

Last but not least, the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is the latest advancement in Russia's hypersonic capabilities. It is designed to be launched from naval platforms, such as submarines and surface ships, and can travel at hypersonic speeds while evading enemy defenses.

The development and deployment of these formidable Russian hypersonic missiles have profound strategic implications.

After all, these weapons' unparalleled speed and maneuverability make them highly challenging to intercept, undermining existing missile defense systems and redefining the nature of warfare.

On this basis, the emergence of hypersonic missiles has had a destabilizing impact on global security. With the ability to bypass existing defenses, hypersonic missiles create uncertainties and potentially escalate arms races, prompting other nations to invest in similar technologies.

A Glimpse at Russia's Active Nuclear Arsenal

1. RS-24 Yars (SS-29) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM):

  • Range: Over 11,000 kilometers (approximately 6,800 miles)

  • Yield: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with individual warheads in the range of 100 to 300 kilotons

2. RS-28 Sarmat (SS-30) Heavy ICBM:

  • Range: Estimated over 10,000 kilometers (approximately 6,200 miles)

  • Yield: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with individual warheads in the range of several hundred kilotons

Russia’s Sarmat missile in testing

Russia’s Sarmat missile in testing (Image courtesy of CNN)

3. SS-18 Satan (RS-20V) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM):

  • Range: Over 10,000 kilometers (approximately 6,200 miles)

  • Yield: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with individual warheads in the range of 550 to 750 kilotons

4. SS-19 Stiletto (RS-18) Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM):

  • Range: Over 10,000 kilometers (approximately 6,200 miles)

  • Yield: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with individual warheads in the range of 500 to 750 kilotons

5. Borei-class Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM):

  • Range: Over 8,000 kilometers (approximately 4,970 miles)

  • Yield: Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with individual warheads in the range of several hundred kilotons

6. Kalibr-class Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM):

  • Range: Over 2,500 kilometers (approximately 1,550 miles)

  • Yield: Variable, but generally in the range of several tens of kilotons

7. Tactical Nuclear Weapons:

  • Russia is also believed to possess various tactical nuclear weapons, including nuclear artillery shells, nuclear landmines, and short-range ballistic missiles with lower yields suitable for battlefield use.

Critical CBRN Gear for Surviving a Russian Nuclear Attack

It must be acknowledged that the likelihood of a direct Russian nuclear attack against America is extremely low.

At the same time, the sheer destructive power of Russia's arsenal makes it something Americans can't ignore.

In the event of a direct attack, nuclear fallout will become a significant concern almost immediately. This is because plumes of irradiated dust and debris would be ejected into the atmosphere, sinking back to Earth across dozens of miles (depending on how the wind blows).

So what can you do to prepare yourself?

The first, most affordable, and most helpful protection against this fallout comes from potassium iodide tablets. These tablets flush your system with safe iodine, preventing the absorption of radioactive iodine-131 by your body's thyroid gland. A potential carcinogen, I-131 is a common component of fallout in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

MIRA Safety potassium iodide tablets

MIRA Safety's Potassium Iodide tablets come with thirty adult doses per container and a ten-year shelf life. As such, they're an outstanding value for a purchase–and could save your life.

Next up is respiratory protection, to prevent the inhalation of fallout and other potentially hazardous threats that could be unleashed in the event of a nuclear attack. In this regard, the CM-6M is an outstanding choice for anyone, with full-face coverage and a panoramic visor that maximizes the user's field of view.

Masked up young men with guns

The CM-6M uses NATO standard 40 mm gas mask filter cartridges, and it's also compatible with the full family of MIRA Safety gas mask upgrades and accessories.

The final step is full-body protection with a MIRA Safety MOPP Suit. Unlike traditional hazmat suits, the MOPP Suit is semi-permeable—allowing some level of airflow and reducing the risk of overheating. For long-term performance in the field, that's an absolutely critical advantage.

MIRA Safety MOPP Suit

Cold War 2.0?

Even as Russia disassembled its communist past and steadily declined in influence, it has retained an absolutely massive nuclear arsenal.

More than just a relic of its former military might, these nuclear weapons represent a potent bargaining tool–and a primary source of the influence Russia still commands on the world stage.

Vladimir Putin on a good day

Vladimir Putin in surprisingly cheerful spirits (Image courtesy of The Guardian)

But whatever our biases against Russia or Putin may be, one simple fact remains: neither Russia nor the Soviet Union have ever deployed a nuclear weapon against their wartime enemies. However well we Americans may regard ourselves, we cannot say the same of our own government.

In fact, the mere existence of those first Russian nuclear weapons may have even prevented the US from deploying more wartime nukes during the Korean War of the early 1950s. And to this day, they remain a powerful deterrent.