Nash Trumbly reporter
It has been almost a year since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military, and the war has reached a deadly standstill. Russia has failed to make significant advancement into the enemy territory since early September when the Ukrainian military executed a successful counterattack into the Russian-held Kharkiv region. Driving enemy forces further east and marking a new era of desperation for Russian military officials. Ukrainian success has also incited increased violence against citizens, with the Russians even firing a missile into a high-rise apartment complex in the city of Dnipro this past month, killing over 40 civilians. And as if these atrocities are not enough, the sights of the international community have been set on a final Russian contingency, the nuclear bomb.
Despite not having seen use since the end of World War 2 in 1945, the nuclear bomb has had a massive influence on conflict around the world, with many leaders and civilians alike pondering who will strike first. As of 2022, there were about 13,000 nuclear bombs in circulation which, according to some sources, is enough to destroy almost every major city in the world. With over half of the weapons held by the two biggest superpowers on earth, The United States and Russia, these destructive capabilities make it difficult for these nations to directly declare war on each other, as they would risk nuclear escalation. This led to so-called proxy wars, such as the Vietnam war, the Korean war, and the war in Afghanistan.
As history repeats itself in Ukraine, the direct involvement of the Russian military has delayed support for Ukraine from the international community. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has continually pleaded to western nations for support in the form of armored tanks, but German and U.S. officials have been involved in a game of chicken, not wanting to be the first to advance the state of western involvement in the war and face Putin’s wrath. Even though the nuclear option is widely considered an unlikely last-ditch effort, it strikes fear in the heart of western leaders, at the cost of the lives of the citizens of Ukraine, terrorized by all-powerful superpowers.
Now, the question is, how can we best reduce the possibility of a nuclear war, not only to prevent a nuclear tragedy itself but to not allow countries possessing the technology to walk unimpeded over smaller developing nations?
One organization, ICAN, or the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons, seeks to work towards an international legislature that enforces nuclear disarmament. The organization’s website states that nuclear weapons are “the most inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created,” and points to how weapons funding can be used to make major advancements in healthcare and education around the world. The success of ICAN is strongly linked to the UN passing a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons by January 2021. While this is a step in the right direction, the UN’s inability to enforce the treaty leaves its ruling to fall on deaf ears and does little to reduce the nuclear stockpile.
Nuclear war would spell the end of the world as we know it. The only way to protect the future of humanity and to stop world superpowers from stepping on smaller nations is to take immediate action to enforce international law and make serious progress in nuclear disarmament.