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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.



  1. GhostTomahawk

    October 31, 2022 at 1:42 am

    Many of us who grew up during the Cold War shrug.

    Really right now? Back to these exercises and rhetoric again? Ugh!

  2. Christophe

    October 31, 2022 at 3:39 am

    Russian political culture is close to zero. Civilians as well as military are compleying with oversimplistic political principles, based on crazyly aggressive nationalism, unchallenged top-down authority and relentless use of brutality inside Russia and abroad.
    So-called experts and high-ranked officers daily talk about the war on Russian tv: because of widespread stupidity, foolish nationalism and a lot of self-censorship, debates are so poor and far-fetched that they do not even reach the intellectual level of a basic conversation between average high-school students from the “decadent West”.
    So, hearing Russian officers speaking like mentally limited middleschool bullies is not suprising at all: it is just a sight of the wicked state of mind of an under-educated population .

    • Cheburator

      November 3, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      Are a military facility with stored nuclear weapons and military and industrial infrastructure a legitimate target in the event of a military conflict, or does NATO not practice strikes on infrastructure during exercises?
      There is nothing to be surprised about, especially since the US nuclear doctrine provides for a preemptive nuclear strike on millions of cities in Russia and China, so by agreeing to deploy NATO and nuclear weapons bases, Germany did not protect itself, a the draws targets on the backs of its own citizens.

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