For the third time this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatening to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Should this threat be realized, it would conform to several aspects of the Gog and Magog war as described by the prophets.
Earlier this month, before invading Ukraine, Putin responded to threats by western countries to intervene should he decide to invade.
“Of course the [military] potential of NATO and Russia are incomparable. We understand it,” Putin said at a press conference. “But we also understand that Russia is one of the leading nuclear states, and by some modern components, it even outperforms many.”
Last week, Putin warned that “whoever tries to hinder us” in Ukraine would see consequences “you have never seen in your history”.
This threat took on ominous proportions on Sunday when he ordered the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s general staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces on a “special regime of combat duty”.
He told defense chiefs it was because of “aggressive statements” by the West, amid widespread condemnation of his invasion of Ukraine.
This was intensified on Sunday when the government of Belarus, a Russian ally, approved constitutional changes that would allow Russian forces and nuclear weapons to be stationed in the country. Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine at any moment.
White House Spokesman Jen Psaki emphasized that the US does not consider Putin’s statements to constitute an immediate threat.
“This is really a pattern that we’ve seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression — and the global community and the American people should look at it through that prism,” Psaki told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”
According to the Federation of American Scientists Russia has just under 4,500 nuclear warheads in its stockpile making it the largest military superpower in the world today.
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded to the veiled threat at a United Nations Security Council meeting on Sunday.
“It means that President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable and we have to continue to stem his actions in the strongest possible way,”
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Putin was engaged in a “battle of rhetoric” by trying to “remind the world” he had a deterrent.
“We don’t see or recognize in the sort of phrase or the status he described as anything that is a change to what they have currently as their nuclear posture,” Wallace said. “This is predominantly about Putin putting it on the table just to remind people, remind the world, that he has a deterrent.”
While world leaders wonder whether Putin would follow through with his threats, a hint of his rationale was given in a 2018 documentary, when he commented that “if someone decides to annihilate Russia, we have the legal right to respond. Yes, it will be a catastrophe for humanity and for the world. But I’m a citizen of Russia and its head of state. Why do we need a world without Russia in it?”
Putin’s ominous statements were met with a new wave of sanctions. Western nations and NATO allies also began financing weapons for Ukraine. Also, the European Union announced a total ban in its airspace for Russian-owned, Russian-registered, or Russian-controlled aircraft. Russian planes have also been banned from UK airspace. The EU also barred Russian state media outlets Sputnik and Russia Today from its territory. Germany said its ban would last three months.
The restrictions on flights will require Russian airlines to take circuitous routes, resulting in longer flight times. Russia responded with similar bans on European flights. Putin has stated that the Western sanctions placed on Russia were unlawful.
It is assumed that Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons. Prior to 1991, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and had Soviet nuclear weapons in its territory. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held about one-third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal totaling approximately 1,900 warheads, the third-largest in the world at the time, as well as significant means of its design and production. In 1994, at the behest of US President Bill Clinton, Ukraine agreed to hand over its nuclear stockpile to Russia for dismantlement and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). This was done with the expressed assurances from the US and Britain that the Soviet Union would not invade Ukraine. Ukraine lacked the resources to dismantle these nuclear assets. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine still held a total of 176 nuclear warheads and several means of deployment.
These agreements were clearly violated in 2014 when Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Obama was quietly criticized for his response which was limited to sanctions, precisely the strategy President Biden has stated he intends to employ in the current crisis.
British Defense Secretary: We maintain Britain’s nuclear readiness at the highest level.
Russia’s Defense Minister has told President Putin that the nuclear triad is on ‘standby alert duty’ and has reinforced personnel.
Should the war escalate into nuclear weapons, this would conform to a Gog and Magog scenario. The War of Gog and Magog is described in prophecy as being an unusually short war. A tradition from the Vilna Gaon (a prominent 18th century Torah authority) teaches that the war of Gog and Magog will last 12 minutes. According to a 20th-century interpretation, “A third of the world will die, a third will suffer from plague and a third will survive.”
This 18th-century prophecy of a 12-minute war was surprising, as it came several hundred years before the advent of nuclear weapons. Conventional wars necessarily last much longer and such a quick war was inconceivable at the time. Such a short war, possibly a nuclear exchange, may have been hinted at in the Bible.
At eventide behold terror; and before the morning they are not. Isaiah 17:14
The prophecy hints at a swift and all-encompassing catastrophe similar to nuclear war. Another prophecy hints at the gruesome aftereffects of nuclear war described by the Prophet Zechariah in reference to the pre-Messiah War of Gog and Magog:
As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths. Zechariah 14:12
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