The simulation scenario estimated 91.5 million fatalities, with 34.1 million dead and 57.4 million injured.
“Deaths from nuclear fallout and other long-term effects will significantly increase forecasts,” the project video says.
In that scenario, Russia would fire the first shot to prevent the US-NATO advance. Within three hours, researchers estimated 2.6 million direct casualties and 480 nuclear weapons fired, 300 from Russia and 180 from NATO.
Targets will include NATO bases across Europe. The researchers determined that after Europe was destroyed, the warheads would be launched from the US. Within 45 minutes of the launch, they estimated 3.4 million direct casualties.
Tensions between Russia and the US have risen in recent years, especially with the war in Ukraine. Researchers cite that the two countries have “abandoned” longstanding nuclear arms control treaties, especially the US under the administration of former President Donald Trump.
In August 2018, the US withdrew from the INF Treaty, which prohibits ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear missiles, on the basis that Russia allegedly tested and deployed cruise missiles prohibited by the treaty, a charge the Kremlin denies.
The US also left the Open Skies Treaty in November 2020, stating that Russia had been ignoring its terms for years. Fellow NATO members, who have supported America’s decision to leave the INF Treaty, expressed regret over the US decision to leave the Open Skies agreement.
Currently, the two countries are locked in the New START Treaty, which limits all intercontinental-range nuclear weapons Russia uses. The agreement will be in effect until February 2026.