I read something today that has not reared its ugly head for at least two decades or more. Two words that are frightening and chilling: Nuclear War.

Just when I thought that human beings had come to the realization that nuclear war doesn’t end in anyone’s victory. You just succeed in annihilating the human race. So what is the point of even talking about it? Well try telling that to Vladimir Putin. He seems to think there is a point. So much so that he deliberately warned of nuclear war in relation to any NATO plans for intervention in the Ukraine.

He told a Youth Forum, and the irony should not be lost here, Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations in the world. It is a reality, he said, not just words. Little did he realise or maybe he did realise he would also be condemning his audience of young Russians to annihilation.

A conventional war has already begun in the Ukraine. That is why Putin’s words should chill to the bone. Ukraine’s Defence Minister warned on Facebook to expect casualties in the tens of thousands. He said a Great War had arrived at Ukraine’s doorstep the likes of which Europe had not seen since World War 2. And it seems Putin agrees with that assessment. The Russian President reportedly told the outgoing President of the European Commission that if Russia wanted to it could take Kiev in two weeks. What is even more worrying, if that could be possible, NATO is taking Putin’s words seriously. They are already discussing a rapid response force of several thousand soldiers to react to any invasion of a member state. It will also include combat aircraft and naval ships from all 28 members of NATO. At this stage Ukraine is not a member of NATO, thank God, but it wants to be and NATO wants it to be.

Putin in even more inflammatory language referred to eastern Ukraine as the new Russia and warned the United States and NATO to back off. Putin said Russia did not want to engage in any large-scale conflicts. But at the same time one Russian news agency quoted him as saying that Russia was “ strengthening our nuclear deterrent forces and our armed forces” which seems to suggest the exact opposite.

Some estimates suggest that Russia has 1800 operational nuclear weapons with a stockpile of an additional 7000 warheads.

Russia is now making no secret of its intentions in relation to Ukraine. Russian tanks, trucks and armored vehicles have been observed crossing its borders with Ukraine. Pictures have been flooding into social media sites. A major Ukrainian airport is reported to have fallen to Russian forces. Loyalist Ukrainian forces are digging in around cities on the Baltic coast. The Russian objective at this point is to capture a bridge of land between its territory and the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine says its forces are already in retreat. They will be no match for the might of Russia. Just how many Russian soldiers are presently fighting in Ukraine is anyone’s guess. Some say a thousand troops others say five thousand. The point is the deployment is only going to get more substantial as time goes on.

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. The worse case scenario: a nightmare that’s already begun. Certainly it is already for Ukraine. The way things stand it won’t take much for it to be upon us all. And God help us all if that happens.