Signs to Look For if U.S. Thinks Putin is About to Detonate a Nuke

Wes O'Donnell
5 min readOct 8, 2022

These are the warning signs that things are about to get very bad.

A U.S. Army Staff Sgt. prepares to send a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear report on radio during the Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Oct. 8, 2019. Public domain.

Putin is having a bad week.

The sole bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia has been rocked by an explosion today, collapsing part of it into the sea. Putin opened the bridge personally in 2018 and it has been a cherished pet project.

Also, a Ukrainian drone attacked a Russian Tu-22M bomber base, which has been a hub for strikes on Ukrainian targets, 200-miles from the Ukrainian border, deep inside Russia.

Not to mention Putin’s army is collapsing on multiple fronts as Ukraine continues their relentless counteroffensive — and the Ukrainian government is winning the information war through its relentless trolling on Twitter.

As a result, Putin has been rattling the nuclear saber… Again.

And many around the world are wondering if Putin’s renewed threats are merely rhetoric — or a danger to be taken seriously.

Regardless, concern at the DoD and intelligence community is greater than commonly understood. My contacts in government are saying the threat is very real — and they have access to much more information than I do.

That scares me.

So, what signs can you look for that will indicate that Putin is about to go nuclear?

First, if the U.S. had intel that a nuclear strike in Ukraine is imminent, expect to see the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) light up with activity.

The U.S. maintains four “Doomsday” planes — these are wide-body jumbo jets, Boeing 747–200s — that are custom-made to keep the government operating in the event of an infrastructure-shattering nuclear war.

The military nomenclature for these is E-4B.

Any dramatic increase in their training and readiness tempo might signal something is cooking in Moscow.

All four E-4B aircraft are assigned to the 595th Command and Control Group at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. You can track training flights out of Offutt here, however, under wartime operations, these flights wouldn’t be trackable.

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge