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Russian Navy Officers Got Caught Talking About Nuking Germany

Kirov-class Battlecruiser. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Kirov-class Battlecruiser. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The question now is were they serious or were they bluffing knowing their conversation could be heard? You decide: 

Russian naval officers discussed nuking Berlin and two German military bases during a training exercise last year in a possible attempt to scare Germany and erode support for Ukraine, Der Spiegel reported.

Russia Submarine

Modern Russian Navy Submarine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Citing several German security-service sources, Der Spiegel reported that Russian officers had mentioned three potential targets for nuclear strikes, including the German capital of Berlin, which has a population of 3.6 million.

Der Spiegel said the other targets mentioned were the Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany, which serves as a headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe, and the Buchel Air Base, which is believed to be home to about 20 US nuclear warheads.

According to The Times of London, the messages were intercepted while Russian warships were conducting maneuvers in the Baltic at the end of last year — months before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

The Times noted that while it may not indicate that Russia had concrete plans to nuke German soil, adding that this sort of chatter isn’t unusual in military exercises, it might have been intended to scare Germany and the West.

Reuters reported that deeply held fears of a nuclear war in Germany, felt strongly during the Cold War, have begun to reemerge. The news agency said that demand for private bunkers has soared.

Towns near US military bases, such as Ramstein, are particularly nervous, Reuters reported. Klaus Weichel, the mayor of Kaiserslautern, which neighbors Ramstein, told the news agency: “It is only understandable that fears are making a comeback.”

He added that Russia’s nuclear rhetoric has the purpose of stirring up fears in a bid to prevent Western nations from backing Ukraine.

Joshua Zitser is a Senior News Reporter at Insider’s London office (where this first appeared). His writing has also appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator, Independent, WIRED, and more. Joshua’s podcast documentary, “Handed Down: A Look Into Transgenerational Trauma,” was nominated for a Mind Media Award and an IRN Award.

Written By

Joshua Zitser is a Senior News Reporter at Insider's London office.