Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sought to allay fears that the conflict in Ukraine could escalate into nuclear war on Thursday. The war in Eastern Europe has reached its fifteenth day and shows no signs of abating. Russia continues to target innocent civilians, bombing other medical facilities after a maternity hospital was hit by airstrikes in Mariupol on Wednesday. When asked if he thought a nuclear war could be started in time, Lavrov told reporters: “I don’t want to believe it, and I don’t believe it.”
He accused the West of fueling the nuclear fire, saying it worries Russia “when the West, like Freud, keeps coming back to this topic.”
Russia and the United States possess the largest arsenals of nuclear warheads in the world, as fears grow of a repeat of the Cold War that divided East and West for much of the 20th century.
During the Cold War, military leaders, intelligence services and the Cabinet Office – under then-Prime Minister Edward Heath – compiled a list of places they thought were “probably nuclear targets” in case of Soviet attack.
The apparent targets from the early 1970s were revealed in documents released by the National Archives in 2014.
The list, marked “top secret” by Air Commodore Brian Stanbridge, was created on May 2, 1972.
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Although most major cities are included, notable omissions include Oxford, Brighton and Aberdeen.
In south-east England, central London, Dover, Rochester, Gillingham, Chatham and Maidstone were all on the list of cities that should be targeted.
Southampton, Salcombe, Bristol, Reading, Cardiff and Swansea were all included, as were the naval bases of Portsmouth and Plymouth.
In the Midlands, Coventry, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Leicester were all seen as possible targets.
The main potential targets further north included Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leeds, Hull and York.
Newcastle and Sunderland were on the list, as were Teesside and the nearby village of Catterick, home to a major RAF base.
In Scotland, only Glasgow and Edinburgh were considered possible targets, while Belfast and Armagh were deemed at risk in Northern Ireland.
Mr Stanbridge added that his list was “not an exhaustive list of all targets likely to be attacked in the event of a general war”.
In total, the list included 38 cities and government centers, 37 US and UK airbases, 25 control, communications and radar installations, and six naval sites.
An appendix to his memo included a joint intelligence committee estimate that the USSR’s initial nuclear strike could include 150 land-based missiles, as well as an unknown number of weapons launched by submarines.
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They predicted that London could be devastated by two to four bombs, each of up to five megatons, exploding over the capital.
Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester were thought to each risk one or two “explosions” of the same size.
For context, five megatons is 333 times more powerful than the bomb that leveled the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 140,000 people.
Kristian Stoddart, a nuclear historian from Aberystwyth University, told the Guardian in 2014 that the UK was a priority Soviet target in the 1970s because it was the only Western European state in the military structure. of NATO after the departure of France in 1966.
He said: ‘For a country the size of Britain there was no civil defense against a full-scale nuclear attack – everything else was a myth.
“Whitehall knew it and most of the population knew it.”
A Ministry of Defense spokesperson told the Guardian in 2014: “These are historic documents and, like many other documents released each year by the National Archives, they have little or no relevance to the present day. .”
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said last week that Putin placing Russian nuclear forces on high alert was merely an attempt to distract.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “It’s mainly about Putin putting it on the table just to remind people, remind the world, that it has a chilling effect.”
He added: “President Putin will know that anything involving a nuclear weapon has an equal or greater response from the West.
“This [the UK’s nuclear deterrent] keeps us safe and that’s why I would say to parents across the country that we will not do anything to degenerate in this area.