Like most people with a smartphone, I utilize Google daily to look up various topics. For example, I’m often looking up what show or movie I saw various actors in, or I’m Googling what events are happening in my local area for ideas to take the kids out and burn some of their steam.
Perhaps more often than those two scenarios, my husband and I use Google to figure out ‘how to’ something. For example, we Google how to season our cast iron skillets, teach our daughter to tie her shoes and style my new leggings.
One of the best Google searches I’ve heard to date comes from Ukraine. Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko tweeted that Ukrainians actively Googling what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.
Most people get that you can't win a nuclear war, but not enough people understand that you also can't even remain fully in control in a nuclear standoff. There are too many small moving parts, too many things that can go wrong. Google "nuclear close calls" if you doubt this.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) September 25, 2022
Ms. Vasylenko tweeted specifically:
“Yes, nuclear attack from Russia is likely. Yes we are Googling what to do in case of such an attack. No, Ukraine will not stop fighting to exist. No this is no reason to sit down and negotiate with the aggressor.”
Yesterday’s misspelled tweet corrected: Yes, nuclear attack from #russia is likely. Yes, we are googling what to do in case of such an attack. No, #Ukraine will not stop fighting to exist. No, this is no reason to sit down and negotiate with the aggressor.
— Lesia Vasylenko (@lesiavasylenko) September 30, 2022
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I’m honestly a bit speechless at the idea that the Ukrainian leaders are turning to Google and advertising that they are utilizing Google as a planning strategy for a nuclear attack. However, it’s not that bizarre, apparently.
Back in March, the Google search for ‘iodine pills for nuclear attack’ increased by 90% in our own country. Add to that the latest announcement by Russian Vladimir Putin of an increase of 300,000 in military reserves; we have even more interesting Googling behavior.
Google searches in Russia increased for the following two phrases:
- How to break your arm
- How to avoid the draft
It puts my Google searches in perspective, that’s for sure.
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It…
What has the Ukrainian government typing ‘nuclear fallout’ in their search engines? Mr. Putin’s recent continued nuclear rhetoric.
After announcing plans to annex or absorb four Ukrainian territories as their own similar to how they annexed Crimea, Mr. Putin declared:
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without a doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”
This statement is an apparent attempt to try to keep control of the four annexed regions. Is it a bluff?
Whatever you do don’t google nuclear war OR feet fungus – you’ll be disturbed by both
— Kenzie (@instantlykenzie) September 26, 2022
Hard to know; saying you aren’t bluffing doesn’t mean you aren’t. If anything, it kind of makes me think you are bluffing, but then again, I don’t negotiate international mutual assured destruction.
Professional opinions vary on whether Mr. Putin means what he says or if he’s ‘saber rattling.’ Former CIA officer Robert Baer told CNN:
“The chances of his using nuclear weapons – at least tactical nuclear weapons – is going up by the day.”
It’s essential to understand what Mr. Baer means by tactical nuclear weapons. When we think of a nuclear attack, many think of the big-boy bombs that create a massive mushroom cloud and cause nuclear fallout and virtual global annihilation.
The reality is nuclear weapons have become much more sophisticated. A tactical nuclear weapon is a small nuclear warhead used for a specific area without causing widespread radioactive fallout.
Don’t get it twisted; these are still super nasty and would be a game changer for the world at large, but perhaps an easier pill for Russia to swallow for escalation than something of the same magnitude seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
With Russia having about 2,000 tactical-style weapons, that seems to be the universal assumption of what he would do.
No 1 Google search term in Russia: "How to break your own arm at home".
Today's young people don't want to fight old men's wars. pic.twitter.com/N7ZDijCzG7
— Dr. Tayo Oyedeji (@tayooye) September 21, 2022
Should We Be Worried?
Some feel there isn’t a reason to start stocking up on gas masks and fallout shelters. Rudra Sil, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, says there is no need to panic, at least right now.
However, his following statement regarding what he believes Mr. Putin’s goal is worries me a bit:
“Basically, it’s a reminder – ‘Don’t forget, we are a nuclear power, you’re acting like we’re not.'”
How does he think Mr. Putin would remind us? I’d suppose using a nuclear warhead, even if it is tactical, would remind us quickly.
I’m not the only one thinking about Googling my nearest fallout shelter. According to a U.S. News and World Report survey of over 17,000 people across the globe, a staggering three-quarters of respondents marked ‘yes’ for the following statement:
“I fear we are moving closer to World War III.”
Over 80% of those asked that were from the United States answered in the affirmative.
kudos to the intern at Russia in Global Affairs who selected a big ole fiery mushroom cloud as the featured image for this wild interview arguing that Moscow should/will target the U.S. directly to shore up its nuclear deterrence in Ukraine pic.twitter.com/lFPcvNwLTs
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) September 27, 2022
Only A Matter Of Time?
Some might argue that we are already in a World War, just the beginning stages. I would take that further by stating if the people believe we are in a World War, it doesn’t matter the actions of those countries involved; belief is sometimes all you need to make something a reality.
We are quickly approaching that belief, I think. The fact that Anbex, one of the companies that supply iodine pills in the United States, is out of stock and ThyroSafe, another iodine pill company, is no longer taking new orders and warning purchasers that they may experience delivery delays is pretty telling.
Furthermore, a flight tracker website has clocked a U.S. RC-135 departing from England and circling Kaliningrad three times in one week. The RC-135 is an electronic surveillance plane that detects various things, including possible nuclear activity.
Kaliningrad is a Russian territory in the Baltic that is thought to be a Russian nuclear weapons storage facility location. Are you worried? I’m worried. You should be worried.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seemed confident in an interview earlier this week that the world has his back in the face of these nuclear threats stating:
“I don’t think the world will allow him to use those weapons.”
⚡️Zelensky about applying for NATO membership:
"We are de facto allies already," he said. "De facto, we have already proven compatibility with Alliance standards."
"Ukraine is applying to confirm it de jure," Zelensky said, "by an expedited procedure."
📷President's Office pic.twitter.com/HmWxvd8z3D
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) September 30, 2022
I appreciate his confidence. However, I’ll be Googling away along with the rest of the world: ‘How to survive a nuclear war.’
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