Is Russia sending nuclear weapons to space?

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Is Russia sending nukes to space? How to respond with faith when we’re right to be afraid

February 16, 2024 -

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to young scientists during his visit to the Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia in Korolev, outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (Grigory Sysoev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to young scientists during his visit to the Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia in Korolev, outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (Grigory Sysoev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to young scientists during his visit to the Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia in Korolev, outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (Grigory Sysoev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

News broke yesterday that Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon that “the United States does not have the ability to counter.”

This is what we know so far:

  • The weapon would be intended to attack other satellites, potentially crippling space-based surveillance, civilian communications, and the military’s ability to coordinate and control operations.
  • To this point, it does not appear that the weapon could be used to target locations on the ground.
  • Russia does not appear ready to deploy the weapon at the moment, though it is unclear what their timeline for doing so might be.
  • Should Russia—or any other nation—send nuclear weapons into space, it would violate the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. China, Russia, and the United States have all signed that treaty, but it remains one of the few from that era still in effect.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with representatives from the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday to discuss the president’s planned response.

Committee chairman Mike Turner said of the briefing:

“We all came away with a very strong impression that the administration is taking this very seriously and that the administration has a plan in place. We look forward to supporting them as they go to implement it.”

Should we be afraid?

Further details have been withheld in order to protect intelligence sources, and both the administration and Congress have been quick to note that there does not appear to be an immediate threat. Still, the nature of the response to date would seem to indicate that the danger is more than hypothetical.

When asked if he could tell Americans not to worry, Mr. Sullivan replied that it was “impossible to answer with a straight ‘yes.’”

After all, Russia does not necessarily have to use the weapon in order for it to have a potentially catastrophic impact. Simply sending it into orbit would be enough to fundamentally shift the way that other world powers like the US and China see space as a battleground. That’s why the 1967 agreement was signed in the first place.

And though the White House has stated that they do not intend to withdraw from the treaty even if Russia does, the uproar over the mere possibility that Russia will be the first to take that step demonstrates just how fragile those agreements can be.

Christ’s most challenging command

In times like this, I’m reminded of one of Christ’s most challenging commands: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

The Greek phrase typically translated as “do not be anxious” is me merimnao, and it carries the idea of being “divided into parts” or “pulled in opposite directions.”

The idea is not that we never feel the emotions of fear or anxiety. After all, God never commands us how to feel. Rather, his instruction pertains to what we do with those emotions and the degree to which we allow them to control our thoughts and actions.

The sin against which we are warned is feeding our anxiety by dwelling on it instead of giving it back to God and trusting that our fears are not greater than our heavenly Father. And while that’s often easier said than done, choosing faith in the midst of fear can make a remarkable difference in how others perceive that faith.

Redeeming anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion common to all people, and dealing with fear is a struggle to which all of us can relate, even if the specific cause of concern varies from person to person.

Whether it’s Russian nukes and the threat of World War III or something closer to home like stress at work or a strained relationship with family, being honest about our fears without letting them pull us in a thousand directions can demonstrate the power and authenticity of the gospel to those who desperately need to encounter both.

So don’t be naïve about the dangers we face, and don’t feel as though you have to act like everything is alright if it’s not. That’s not faith; it’s ignorance.

Instead, let God use those fears as a way of drawing you closer to him and to remind you that he is still greater than any troubles we face in this world.

That’s how we can escape the anxiety that is ripping so many parts of our world apart and help others learn to do the same.

How stretched do you feel today?

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