In January 2022 the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight. At that time, we called out Ukraine as a potential flashpoint in an increasingly tense international security landscape. For many years, we and others have warned that the most likely way nuclear weapons might be used is through an unwanted or unintended escalation from a conventional conflict. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought this nightmare scenario to life, with Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to elevate nuclear alert levels and even first use of nuclear weapons if NATO steps in to help Ukraine. This is what 100 seconds to midnight looks like.
The Science and Security Board condemns the illegal and dangerous invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We call on all countries to denounce Russia’s actions and Putin’s outrageous threats of nuclear use, and for Russia to withdraw its forces and live up to its 1994 pledge—made as part of the successful process of ensuring Ukraine did not gain control over the 1,900 nuclear weapons left on its territory when the Soviet Union dissolved—to fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Anything less is an affront to the rule of law and the principle of national self-determination. Anything less risks global catastrophe.
In the commentaries and analyses below, Bulletin Science and Security Board members bring their expertise to bear on aspects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that they find especially concerning or insufficiently explained elsewhere. The goal, as always and especially in these fraught times, is to minimize the threat of global apocalypse in the short run, and then make it ever less likely to occur over time.
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