In March 2022, Russia invaded and waged war against Ukraine. Russian strongman president Vladimir Putin is unflinching in his commitment to subdue Ukraine. He is persistent in his cause, despite all the economic sanctions and blowback from the world's nations. He claims he will be defiant to the bitter end and has openly threatened to deploy nuclear weapons to target the West if any NATO member or any other country provides military support to Ukraine.
For many who lived through the Cold War, especially in Europe, it is a chilling throwback to the days when many countries had their stash of nuclear missiles ready for launch anytime. Is Europe and the rest of the world living through a Cold War reboot or version 2?
In 2018, filmmaker Andreas Orth took a barometer reading of the geopolitical situation in Europe by getting insights from several international experts on nuclear warfare. They firmly believe that the possibility of a nuclear war is higher today than ever during the Cold War.
In 1987, the USA and the then USSR signed the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty eliminating all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range up to 5,500 kilometers. When the Cold War "officially" ended in 1991, European countries dismantled their nuclear weapons and old bunkers were quickly converted to tourist attractions and even rave venues.
However, in 2018, military posturing, fly-bys and many other old-school Cold-War era military exercises and maneuvers, especially coming from Russia, increased dramatically. Atomic weapons were suddenly being tested in the United States, on the behest of European countries that owned these weapons. President Trump also abruptly withdrew from the INF treaty with NATO's approval and support due to Putin's long-running violation and non-compliance with the treaty.
Orth recently talked again to the same experts to get their updated take in light of the war in Ukraine, and they all agree that European governments are slowly reassembling and rebuilding their stash.
Putin's threats should also not be downplayed. There are signs that strategic Russian nuclear strongholds are being rebuilt or revived. The current level of risk for a nuclear fallout is very high.
As the world watches how this will all play out, what is very clear is that, like back in the Cold War era, more nuclear weapons will boost feelings of insecurity, mistrust and fear. And hopefully, we are not currently going through the end of a peaceful period in our collective history.
Directed by: Andreas Orth