Russia’s Latest (Nuclear) Provocations

A recent Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists post entitled “Russia’s latest provocations: Business as usual?” set off some interesting comments about Russia’s nuclear stance having become more negative/threatening recently.

As one commenter noted:

Of particular interest to Bulletin readers might be the quickening pace of public announcements of Russian nuclear threats against the West. So far in 2014:
– March: Putin’s chief propagandist Dmitriy Kiselyov pronounces on television that Russia is the only country capable of turning the United States into “radioactive ashes.”
– July: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “We have the doctrine of national security, and it very clearly regulates the actions, which will be taken in this case.” This is a not-so-subtle threat to use nuclear weapons to retain Crimea.:
– August: Putin speaking to a Putinist youth summer camp assembly, “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations,” the President said. “This is a reality, not just words.”
– October: Putin issues new ‘large nuclear power’ warning to West


 

Here are some of the news items referred to with further quotations (thanks Odyssey Robert):

March: Russia is the only country with capability to turn U.S. into ‘radioactive ashes’ [Washington Post]

July: Russia Threatens Nuclear Strikes Over Crimea [The Diplomat]

“Russia’s military doctrines starting in 2000 introduced the concept of de-escalation, which is “a strategy envisioning the threat of a limited nuclear strike that would force an opponent to accept a return to the status quo ante.” In other words, Russian military doctrines have said that Moscow will use limited nuclear strikes in response to conventional military attacks against it. The most recent military doctrine issued in 2010, for example, states:

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.”

August: Putin: You better not come after a nuclear-armed Russia  [CNN]

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Mark Hertling, a 37-year veteran who once commanded U.S. soldiers in Europe, thinks that Russia may be aiming higher than that. If Ukraine folds easily to Russia’s military might, neighboring nations might have good reason to worry. On the other side, Moscow could lose sway if its efforts fail.

“He is trying to influence the Europeans, and it won’t stop just with Ukraine,” the military analyst told CNN, predicting more Russian military intervention elsewhere. “This is something where he is trying to counter the influence of the West, and he can’t afford to lose in Ukraine.”

October: Vladimir Putin issues new ‘large nuclear power’ warning to West  [Telegraph]

“Our partners should be well aware that attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures will not bring about a settlement, but rather impede the dialogue,” Mr Putin said in an interview with Respublika.

“How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process? If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal.”

 

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