chapter  13
15 Pages

Reflections on Russia’s nuclear strategy

WithStephen Blank

Nuclear weapons remain the priority in Russian procurement for the new defense plan through 2025. And this occurs even though doctrinally and in practice the government and military proclaim their emphasis on non-nuclear deterrence in current and future military planning. Nuclear weapons represent priority, even critical, parts of Vladimir Putin’s so-called asymmetric or indirect strategy. Russian nuclear modernization programs encompass all three legs of its triad of air, sea, and land-based nuclear weapons along with short-range, intermediate-range, and long-range nuclear weapons. Moscow is also developing low-yield, high-precision nuclear weapons. Moscow’s deployment of nuclear and conventional weapons indicates that it believes nuclear weapons deter both nuclear and conventional attacks. Nuclear weapons are at the core of Putin’s so-called asymmetric strategy to forestall North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s conventional superiority. Nuclear weapons serve a much broader strategic need than deterring real or potential conventional or nuclear strikes.