Russia Keeps Its Nuclear Threats against NATO Coming

Is Vladimir Putin seriously weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes against targets in NATO? Some experts think so, and Moscow would certainly have us believe that it is.

As it reportedly prepares for a massive military exercise this month, Vladimir Putin reminded us, “Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is reality not just words.” As reported in the Daily Beast, he continued, Russia is “strengthening our nuclear deterrence forces.” Indeed, it is.

While the U.S. remains on a nuclear modernization holiday, and Obama administration officials affirm their commitment to taking the U.S. to lower nuclear force levels, Russia has been increasing its nuclear force not just in numbers but in capability, and has even violated the INF Treaty with the U.S. to do it. I’ve recently written about that here. And Drs. Keith Payne and Mark Schneider wrote about it in August in the Wall Street Journal here.

In response to U.S. and Polish plans to deploy purely defensive missile interceptor sites in Poland to defend against Iranian missiles, Russia threatened to attack Poland with nuclear weapons. And in 2009 and then again just last year Moscow’s military practiced doing just that—launching nuclear attacks against Eastern Europe.

And it hasn’t refrained from using nuclear threats to intimidate the Ukraine government either. According to Ukrainian Minister of Defense Valeriy Heletey, “The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us.”

As NATO signaled it will provide more support for Ukraine’s efforts to fend off Russia’s invasion, Moscow made a serious departure in its policy by declaring NATO a major “threat” on Tuesday. In its 2010 military doctrine Russia described NATO expansion as a serious threat, but did not name the alliance itself as a direct threat.

It is to be seen if NATO’s new commitments to increase its military spending and presence are enough to deter the Russian Bear.

 

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