Ukraine War, August 13, 2022: “Britain should prepare for a nuclear war,” says British nuclear expert

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.


1) Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, “Britain should prepare for a nuclear war; I don’t buy the popular scepticism that Vladimir Putin wouldn’t resort to using such weapons,” The Telegraph, August 13, 2022 (6:00 pm).

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon OBE is former commander of UK and Nato CBRN Forces. He is now a fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge

2) “Ukraine War, April 29, 2022: Peggy Noonan on the real risks of nuclear war; Putin plans to go to G-20 in Jakarta–great arrest opportunity; First-hand report from the battle in the Donbas,” The Trenchant Observer, April 29, 2022.

3) “Ukraine War, March 21, 2022 (I): This war is not a football game; What the media are not covering–strategy and goals, strategic nuclear doctrine, and the steps in nuclear escalation,” The Trenchant Observer, March 21, 2022.

4) “Ukraine War, March 14, 2022: Worst- and bad-case (nuclear) scenarios; the riskiest option may be to not oppose Putin with conventional force, NOW; An act of immense moral courage by a Russian state television editor on live news broadcast — UPDATED March 16, 2022,” The Trenchant Observer, March 14, 2022.

4) “Strategy beyond the Ukraine: It’s time to start thinking about the risks of nuclear war with Russia, and of appeasement,” The Trenchant Observer, February 8, 2015.


De Bretton-Gordon, former commander of British and NATO Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Forces, writes of the extraordinarily perilous moment humanity faces, as follows:

The threat of a nuclear attack or accident has rarely been higher. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has warned that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”. UK National Security advisor Sir Stephen Lovegrove has said that a breakdown in strategic dialogue between the West and China had raised the risk of an accidental escalation to nuclear war. All this against a backdrop of Putin threatening Nato and Ukraine with a nuclear strike, Xi Jinping’s sabre-rattling against Taiwan, Iran claiming to be nuclear weapon capable, and North Korea working to get there.

De Bretton-Gordon does not discount the possibility of Putin using nuclear weapons. He writes,

I don’t buy the scepticism that Putin wouldn’t use nuclear capabilities for offensive purposes. He has already attacked the UK with nuclear material, Polonium 210, which was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko. Is it so unlikely that Putin would make use of a nuclear weapon, even a small one, to achieve his goals now? Soviet doctrine, which Russia seems to be following in Ukraine, allows commanders to employ battlefield nuclear weapons to stave off defeat, which is looking more likely by the day in some areas.

Given this perilous situation, he urges that civilian defense measures be undertaken on an urgent basis, and that communication and safeguard measures be established or re-established among the major nuclear powers, including the U.S., Russia, and China.

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