Russia's Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons   [open pdf - 948KB]

"While US-funded programs brought many nuclear weapons into secure storage facilities, two questions arose regarding Russia's unilateral initiatives. The first concern was weapons security and unauthorized transfers to third parties. The second concern was Russian military plans for the other half of its surface-to-air missile warheads, tactical naval warheads and bombs. The emerging answer relates to Russian threat perceptions, national security policy and military doctrine. It also invokes a larger geostrategic issue: was the post-Cold War era of proclaimed strategic partnership ending and a new, interwar era in Russia's relations with the West beginning, in which preventing preventing war gave way to preparing for war?" The authors developed algorithms for nuclear use to reinterpret the quantitative and qualitative ratios of strategic and nonstrategic conventional and nuclear arms and to improve performance in nuclear destruction missions. They identified three situations for employing nuclear weapons: Enemy use of weapons of mass destruction or evidence of immediate preparations to do so; Enemy effect against strategic (not just military) installations, even by conventional weapons; and a threat to disrupt stability of a strategic defense. Strategic nuclear forces remain the main means of deterrence, but the presence of nonstrategic nuclear weapons offers a chance (although fragile) to prevent the avalanche-like transformation of a regional conflict into an unlimited global use of nuclear weapons. Russia has good reason to abandon the existing unilateral regime for nonstrategic nuclear weapons and will not likely embrace a formal bilateral or multilateral version of it without concessions from the United States and NATO on other arms-control issues. Russia's isolation and NATO's willful disregard of its interests confirmed the assumptions of NATO hostility that only a few years before had been confined to the extreme nationalist and communist circles.

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Military Review (May-June 2001), p.27-38
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