On April 12, amid escalating tensions along the Ukrainian border, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran expressed concern that “Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons” (Radio Svoboda, April 14). Even though Taran did not supply evidence for this claim, it is plausible to assert that such nuclear potential in occupied Crimea certainly exists.
According to experts, Russia possesses up to 2,000 nuclear warheads at present (The Bulletin, March 15), some of which may already be located in Crimea. Illustratively, in late 2016, “Object-100,” an underground stationary complex for the storage and combat use of two cruise missile divisions, was restored on the peninsula (Interfax, November 18, 2016). Created in the Soviet era, it has been utilized by Utes missile systems equipped with P-35B or 3M44 Progress cruise missiles capable of carrying a 350-kiloton nuclear warhead. The combat readiness of Object-100, which can hit targets at a range of up to 300 kilometers, was confirmed during military exercises in November 2016 (RIA Novosti, November 18, 2016). Crimea is also home to at least three Bastion-P mobile coastal-defense complexes armed with the P-800 Oniks missile (range of up to 800 km). The P-800 missile is capable of carrying a ten-kiloton nuclear warhead (Lenta.ru, September 25, 2019).