Ukrainians prep for a possible Russian nuclear attack – POLITICO > Dogecointool

Ukrainians prep for a possible Russian nuclear attack – POLITICO

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KYIV — There’s a nuclear threat hanging over Ukraine.

The atomic saber rattling by the Kremlin ranges from President Vladimir Putin’s threat to defend illegally annexed Ukrainian territory “by all means available,” to increasingly unhinged comments from former President Dmitry Medvedev and Moscow’s (false) hints that Ukraine is developing a nuclear “dirty bomb” — something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned might be Russia preparing for a so-called false flag attack.

For many Ukrainians, these are far from empty words and the country is getting ready.

The Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation in downtown Kyiv has one bomb shelter in the carpark below the building to protect staff from conventional Russian attacks and another to be used in case of a nuclear attack.

“The second shelter is equipped accordingly. It has a supply of medicines, food, drinking and distilled water, flashlights and batteries,” said TV star Serhiy Prytula, who heads the eponymous foundation.

“[Predicting the actions of] the Russian military and political leadership is always difficult if you use normal logic. We have been very unfortunate to have this neighbor. This is why anything connected to a nuclear threat should be taken very seriously, as a real threat, and prepare accordingly,” he said.

The language coming out of Moscow is worrying.

Earlier this month, Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, warned that Kyiv’s aim to recapture all of its lost territory “is a threat to the existence of our state and of a dismemberment of today’s Russia,” something he said was a “direct reason” to implement Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

The Russian military is on the back foot in Ukraine and setting off a nuclear weapon could be seen as a desperate measure by the Kremlin to force a halt in the war.

Kyiv’s reaction to Medvedev was swift.

An Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuer attends an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in case of a possible nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant | Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, branded his nuclear threats “an act of suicide,” saying: “Russia will finally turn into enemy No. 1 for the whole world.”

Even Russia’s ally China is warning about the danger of using nuclear weapons. Last week, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said: “Nuclear weapons cannot be used, a nuclear war cannot be waged.”

U.S. President Joe Biden told Putin that it would be an “incredibly serious mistake” to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Brace brace

Those international warnings aren’t stopping Ukrainians from prepping for the worst.

The authorities in the Kyiv region have hundreds of shelters that could be used in case of nuclear attack. 

“The past eight months have taught us that anything can happen. As an official, I am preparing for the worst-case scenario, but I hope that everything will be fine,” Oleksii Kuleba, head of the capital region’s military administration, told local media. 

Kuleba said the shelters are below ground, have ventilation, two entrances, and by November 15 should be equipped with radio sets — which Ukrainian authorities believe might be the only means of communications after a nuclear attack.

Ukraine’s government bodies have also recently published detailed instructions — informed by the country’s experience with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster — on what to do in case of a nuclear strike.

Secretary of the National security and defence council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov | Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

“The use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine is considered unlikely, and the main purpose of these threats is to scare Ukrainians and the world and force us to make concessions, and our partners to weaken their support for Ukraine,” say the instructions, which then add: “At the same time, Ukrainians must have an action plan in case of any emergency situations: the use of nuclear weapons, a ‘dirty bomb’ or in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant.”

The instructions detail everything from not looking at the blast — “when you notice a flash in the sky (or its reflection), in no case look in that direction” — to covering your ears to prevent damage from a shock wave and removing clothing that has been exposed to radiation. “Run for cover as soon as you can get back on your feet and when the blast wave from the use of nuclear weapons has passed,” they say.

In early October, the capital city’s administration said the city has enough potassium iodide pills — medicine to help prevent the absorption of radioactive iodine by the thyroid gland — to distribute to medical facilities and family doctors “in case of a radiation threat or a radiation emergency.”

“If evacuation is necessary, potassium iodide will be distributed at evacuation points to members of the population who were exposed to the radiation zone, in accordance with the recommendations of medical professionals,” the administration added.

Meanwhile, many Kyiv residents are taking their own preventive measures.

Kristina Riabchyna, a sustainable stylist living in Kyiv and originally from Donetsk, has bought iodine tablets from a local pharmacy. 

“I really want to believe that there won’t be a nuclear attack. But unfortunately, we have this insufferable neighbor, so we have no choice but to believe that this absurd thing might actually be possible,” she said.

“Buying potassium iodide was probably a way of coping with the fear,” Riabchyna added. “What I mean is, I have done what I can at this stage, for my safety and for my loved ones, I haven’t ignored the danger and this means I can carry on living my life. But it goes without saying that I understand that this isn’t a countermeasure that will save us if this threat becomes reality.”

Mykhailo, 49, and his mother in a school’s bomb shelter where they have stayed for nearly two months on June 4, 2022 in Velyka Novosilka, Ukraine | Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images

Foreigners in Kyiv are taking similar measures. 

In recent weeks, staff working for an EU-funded project — they asked that the project not be identified — received thorough instructions on what to do in case of a nuclear attack or the use of a dirty bomb — a conventional bomb laced with radioactive material.

“Nuclear explosions can cause significant damage and casualties from blast, heat, and radiation but there are steps you can take to try to mitigate against the impact,” the instructions said, recommending that, “If warned of an imminent attack, immediately get inside the nearest building, ideally under ground, and move away from windows.”

The instructions go on to explain how to wash off radioactive fallout, how an electromagnetic pulse can damage electronic equipment and listen for advice on possible evacuation.

If the attack is a tactical nuclear strike on the frontlines far from Kyiv, then, “The only plan of action for our Kyiv-based staff in such a case is to jump into cars and to be on the border [with Poland] within a couple of hours,” said an EU national with the program, speaking on condition of not being identified.

Ukrainian troops on the front lines have been given potassium iodine tablets and also received training on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack — although spokespeople from the defense ministry and the military would not specify what those instructions were.

For Prytula, the charity boss, the danger of a nuclear attack won’t end soon.

“The threat of a nuclear weapon being used against Ukraine, or indeed any other country in the world, will be real as long as the Russian Federation exists,” he said. 

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