(Naturalnews) In the 20th century, the world experienced a pair of “hot” world wars — and one gigantic Cold War. In the second decade of the 21st century, it looks as if Cold War II may be underway. Tensions and animosity between the West and Russia have reached levels not seen since the 1980s, as evidenced by a failed diplomatic “reset” with Moscow, Russia’s “annexation” of the Crimea in Ukraine and the Bear’s increased haranguing of Western nations.

But is Russia truly the same threat to the United States today as it was before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991? In many ways, no — but in one way, most definitely. Russia’s military is just now regaining some of its capability, thanks in large part to increased defense budgets driven by high oil prices in recent years (Russia is the third-leading producer of oil, behind the United States [1] and Saudi Arabia [2]). But it still lags in terms of conventional power projection.

Nuclear power projection, however, is a different matter. Russia still retains a potent nuclear force; at latest count, the Russian armed forces possesses 8,000 nuclear warheads, a little more than the 7,315 retained by the United States. Each country keeps about 1,800 warheads “on alert.” And it is this massive nuclear arsenal that Russia relies on for self-preservation — even to the point of threatening to use it in an offensive first strike. In recent weeks, one Russian geopolitical analyst opined that the best way to launch an attack against the U.S. is to detonate nuclear weapons in the skies over Yellowstone National Park, in order to trigger a supervolcano eruption, or along the San Andreas fault line along the coast of California.    CONTINUE