Escalation of US-Russia confrontation within the framework of Russia-Ukraine war
Escalation of US Russia confrontation
within the framework of Russia-Ukraine war
Maidan of Foreign Affairs
In this research an effort was made to clarify the impact of Russia-Ukraine war on the
relationship of two superpowers in the domain of nuclear confrontation, on the dynamic
of its further progress, also to shape the appropriate recommendations to Ukrainian
The author is thankful to Valentyn Badrak, the director of Center for Army, Conversion
and Disarmament Studies (CACDS), Ukraine, for his support and contribution to this
List of acronyms
SNF – Strategic Nuclear Forces
U.S. NMD – U.S. National Missile Defense
U.S. NMD EPAA - European Phased Adaptive Approach
ICBM - intercontinental ballistic missiles
SLBM - submarine-launched ballistic missile
ABMT - Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
PGS - Prompt Global Strike project
DOD – U.S. Department of Defense
AHW – Advanced Hypersonic Weapon
INF Treaty - Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
ТHAAD - Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
I .General observations:
Russia-U.S. relationship during last two decades are characterized with a stable
dominance of military issues, particularly, the necessity to maintain the balance of
nuclear weapons, missiles and conventional armaments. Bilateral cooperation on military
issues went hand in hand in other spheres, like elimination control of nuclear weapons,
realization of a “Megatons for megawatts” program, cooperation in space exploration, as
well as some American investments in Russian energy sector and trade in specific
sectors. Beginning since 2011, due to a number of factors like Syrian crisis,
implementation of U.S. NMD European Phased Adaptive Approach, Snowden case,
Bolotnaya square protests, the parties put on hold their cooperation in military and
political spheres, military confrontation rapidly begun to get strength, economic and trade
relationships returned to a token lever and turned to me marginal in 2014 in view of
introduction of Western economic sanctions as a response to Crimea annexation and
military aggression in the Eastern Ukraine.
Russia`s resort to nuclear blackmail did not surface without rhyme or reason, it appeared
to be another step of evolution in the thinking mode of Kremlin leaders, who seek from
the West political guarantees for impunity in creating havoc domestically in Russia and
in their “sphere of interests” – post-soviet countries of the former USSR. The West
definitely denied Russia such a right, thus there is a possibility to turn the current
confrontation, nuclear included, into a long-term enterprise.
After the events of Maidan 2014 Ukraine found itself in a completely new geopolitical
and military situation, when the previous approached to safeguard national security
proved to be ineligible, while the new ones are not ready to be applied. The situation is
aggravated by high probability for the country to find itself in the immediate proximity of
U.S.-Russia nuclear and conventional weapons confrontation with a tendency to escalate.
This research is an attempt to evaluate the real degree of existing nuclear threat and
options, available to Ukraine in this new military environment, as well as to shape
practical recommendations to the government in this respect.
II. Want makes this research relevant?
Starting since April 2015, as a response to Putin`s statement that Russian nuclear
armament was put on a high alert level and stands ready to strike NATO in case the latter
interfered in the Crimea annexation process, western military analysts begun to estimate
the rise of Russian nuclear threat. This process coincided with growing Russian military
activity on NATO eastern borders, public Russian allegations to rapidly upgrade its
nuclear arsenal and the level of its battle readiness, growing number of ICBMs test
launches, provocative flights of strategic bombers, large-scale military exercises in the
areas next to NATO borders, including imitation launches of nuclear capable tactical
missile systems (Iskanders in Kaliningrad). In Berlin during allegedly non-public
contacts with NATO interlocutors Russian retired brass, following Kremlin instructions,
threatened to utilize non-strategic nuclear weapons in case NATO sides militarily with
Ukraine to jointly withstand Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
It is for the first time in decades that the Russia-NATO military conflict poses to be a
reality. Russian aggression against Ukraine undermined a post-war European order, even
worse, it returned into NATO agenda the issue of Russian nuclear deterrence.
- In September 2014 Mr.Putin announced in an interview: “Our partners,
regardless of their domestic situation or their foreign policy, should always
keep in mind that it is better to avoid meddling with Russia. I remind, that
Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear states in the world. These are not
hollow words, this is a reality, to make things even more grave we strengthen
our nuclear capabilities”.
- In the Russian propagandistic documentary “Crimea: a way back home” in
April 2015 Putin responded to the question of a journalist about the high alert
level of Russian nuclear forces in early 2014 in q following way: “We reflected
about such a possibility”. Abroad this wording was interpreted as a proof to
escalation of nuclear confrontation with the West.
- Certain Russian officials began to elaborate on the issue, thus publicly
demanding to introduce into the Military doctrine some adventurous statements
concerning the possibility to resort to preemptive non-strategic nuclear attacks
in case of local conflicts as a means to ‘deescalate’ the conflict. Luckily, these
amendments were not accepted.
The concept of preemptive non-strategic nuclear strike was debated for years in NATO
and was finally rejected in early 80-s as suicidal. It was substituted by a concept of Air-
Ground Operation, which envision conventional air-born attacks with high precision
munition targeting the second echelons of the adversary on the offensive. When the cold-
war period was over, all the technical equipment, which supported this concept, was
dislocated from Europe to the American soil. The Soviet Union also rejected any
concepts of a full-scale nuclear confrontation and looked only into the options of utilizing
non-strategic nuclear weapons.
It is reasonable to mention, that the escalation of U.S.-Russia nuclear confrontation,
besides public statements, has a palpable material dimension:
- A Russia-Georgia war 2009 was an impetus to modernize Russian
conventional forces as well as to upgrade its nuclear arsenal: ICBMs with a
more number of multiple warheads appeared, a new generation of SSBNs was
launched, new long-range cruise missiles were tested.
- NATO member-states raise concerns, that Russia included non-strategic
nuclear weapon in its defense scenarios. Poland believes to be a target due to
its decision to be a home for U.S. NMD EPAA elements: in 2009 Russia
conducted military training “Zapad” next door to Poland with a nuclear strike
imitation. In 2014 on the wake of Russia-Ukraine war The Kremlin launched a
number of military trainings, which included nuclear-capable equipment
(Iskander tactical missile launchers and Tu-22M3 middle-range bombers).
- In December 2014 Russia terminated a program of Nann-Lugar, which
facilitated to safeguard and limit Russian strategic nuclear arsenals and nuclear
SSBNs with funding of $20 bln since 1991. Simultaneously Russia declared
that it walks away from participating in an annual U.S.-Russia nuclear security
- After the annexation of Crimea a threat of NATO-Russia military confrontation
ascended considerably. NATO thinks that Russia downgraded the safeguard to
prevent a nuclear conflict with neighboring countries, while East European
member-states seriously believe in a probability of nuclear conflict with
- Russia`s recent efforts to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities indicate on its
desire to discourage NATO from meddling into Russia-Ukrainian war and to
intimidate Sweden and Finland, which took steps to join NATO.
The tendency of mitigate the U.S.-Russia military confrontation, which was rooted in
early 90-s, changed course since 2002:
- Russia believes, that American plans to deploy EPAA as an element of national
NMD while withdrawing from ABMT (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty) in 2002,
combined with the launch of Prompt Global Strike Project and NATO
expansion eastwards despite Russian objections were the signs of U.S.
intention to shift the bilateral military balance on its favor.
- Looking from the other side, Russian attempts to assist the regime of Bashar
al-Assad in Syria, efforts to develop a non-military nuclear program in Iraq
despite strong U.S. objections, introduction of blackmail elements into energy
export policy towards Europe, waging was with Georgia in 2008 and with
Ukraine in 2014 pushed the U.S.A. to recalibrate its policy towards Russia.
Russia-Ukraine war 2014 proved to be a next step in escalation of nuclear confrontation
since 2012. Mr.Putin decided that Russian political class can achieve a “status of an equal
partner’ with the West (U.S.A. and NATO) through military confrontation as the only
workable means, as far as the path of peaceful cooperation proved to be impractical.
Besides, he run to the conclusion that a deep financial crisis in the West since 2008 with
no economic rise on the horizon is a right time to skip to alternative policy. Now both
sides on the top level discuss the situation, using the language of threats and intimidation.
The expert community evaluates the probability of limited nuclear exchange strikes
between U.S.A. and Russia, while some basic nuclear agreements in the field of nuclear
reduction and limitation began to erode, and the reversal to détente policy is viewed in a
very distant future.
Under the circumstances Ukraine as a non-nuclear state needs to distinctly clarify its
place in this environment of military confrontation, true intentions and motivations of the
parties, real balance of forces and perspectives for to shift it, the variety of scenarios of
further U.S.-Russia relationships, as well as to realize its own national interests,
preconditions and extents of achieving them, and to recalibrate accordingly its national
security and defense policy.
III. What is the real U.S.-Russia nuclear balance?
Despite the existing parity, the importance and the role of SNF will remain prioritized in
Defense doctrines of both states at least till 2020. After 2000 the U.S. administration
began looking for options to diminish its reliance in the sphere of strategic containment
on sheer nuclear arsenal, but since 2012 we may affirm, that this effort was not rooted.
Both superpowers are exploring the ways to effectively modernize its nuclear arsenal as
well as options to utilize it. These efforts are noteworthy in conceptual approaches.
On the eve of the cold war époque the USSR had an advantage over the U.S.A. and
NATO in conventional forces, while there was a parity in SNF. After the USSR demise
the situation changed: U.S.A. and NATO put the development of conventional forces into
their focus, while realizing that taking a nuclear option remains highly problematic in
modern local warfare. Now Western military has a significant advantage in conventional
weaponry, while their SNF played a secondary role in their containment strategy.
Russia, on the contrary, prioritized its efforts on the efforts to modernize strategic and
nonstrategic nuclear arsenals after a long-time decay following the USSR demise. In
2000 Russia abandoned the USSR doctrine, that denied a preemptive nuclear strike, and
took on board a concept of ‘deescalating’ nuclear strikes in local conflicts. This concept
presumes tactical nuclear threats and strikes during a conventional military conflict in
order to terminate its on conditions favorable to Russia. So far Russian nuclear arsenals,
though in parity with the U.S., still pose a threat to the West, while the latter has a an
advantage in conventional warfare.
1. The balance of Strategic Nuclear Forces
According to estimations of leading experts of both parties, Strategic Nuclear Forces, that
is long-range ICBMs, SLBMs and cruise missiles of U.S.A. and – Russia are in a parity,
both parties stress the necessity to preserve it and to stick to verification mechanism of
control despite the Russia-Ukraine war. The balance is scrupulously verified by several
- warheads: deployed, stocked and awaiting for dismantlement,
- three groups of launchers: ground-launched ICBMs (silos, mobile), SLBMs
(submarines), air launched cruise missiles (strategic bombers).
The U.S.A. and Russia still have excessive nuclear capabilities from 14.000 in 90-s till
2.000 at the moment, and the dynamics of their further reduction to 1.500 before
February 2018 within the framework of the last START-3 2010 in slow. Besides, this
data does not embrace all the warheads. At the moment the situation is the following:
- Russia has totally 7.500 warheads, 4.500 are stocked in the storages, 1.582 are
deployed on 515 launchers, 1.418 are waiting to be dismantled.
- U.S. have 7.totally 100 warheads, 4.760 are stocked in the storages, 1.597 are
deployed (+15) on 785 launchers (+270), the rest 743 are waiting to be
As we see, the warheads are in parity, while U.S.A. have serious advantage in launchers,
keeping in mind, that START-3 limit is 700. That means that the U.S.A. will keep its
advantage in launchers even after 2018 in every group of nuclear triad: ground-based,
submarine-based and air-based. The long-time strategy to keep a numerous fleet of
launcher provide the U.S.A. the opportunity to engage a low attraction strategy for a
preemptive strike case: the less warheads are deployed on your launchers, the less
attractive target is your launcher. It would be fair to note, that American advantage in
launchers was compensated after USSR demise with the efforts to mitigate the nuclear
confrontation and to facilitate the confidence-building measures. Moreover, in 2013
when START-3 was put in effect, the Obama administration lobbied the idea for more
slash till 2018 – up to 1.000, but Republicans and Russia did not support the effort.
To be in line with START-3, the U.S. need to start from 2015 to dismantle its hollow
silos launches, to turn its B-52H strategic bombers fleet into nuclear incapable, and to
reduce its submarine launchers number from 24 till 20. And event after that, the U.S.
advantage will still be in place, when the provisions of START-3 be reached. Russia
plans to preserve its launcher under 500, with the idea to balance the disadvantage due to
a fleet of ground mobile launcher. Meantime a limited fleet of launchers demand from
Russia to arm every new ICBM Sarmat with a bunch of warheads, thus making too heavy
and immobile missiles a very attractive target for a preemptive strike.
It is worth to note, that numerous Russian nuclear arms modernization programs,
launched since 2012, did not disturb the U.S. The reason is simple: this modernization is
taking place after a long period of neglect after the demise of the USSR, and the
anticipated results of this effort will still be unable to break the balance to Russian
- U.S. will keep and facilitate its advantage in launchers and vehicles,
- the balance of ground-launchers (identified and far-off located) versus sea-based
(stealth and potentially intermediate-range) launchers is still to U.S. advantage ((2/3
- in case the START-3 is crippled, the U.S. will still be capable to redeploy 1.000
warheads from the storages, Russia in fact doesn`t have as much launcher to redeploy a
- While the economic sanctions against Russia are still in place and war with
Ukraine denies the excess to its arms industry, Russia financially and
technologically is unable to catch up with the U.S. in this sphere.
American experts believe that Russian modernization efforts incorporate some flaws:
- It is reasonable to presume, that Russia will be incapable to finalize its
modernization programs before 2020, as planned, perhaps, except a new
bomber. It is exactly at that time the U.S. will launch its own cycle of
modernization and launch its new submarine to replace «Ohio», a new strike
bomber and, perhaps, new cruise missiles, new SLBMs or will modernize the
existing one «Minuteman III» as a more budget-friendly variant. That approach
will safe U.S. dominance in SNF sphere.
- A heavy silos-based ICBM ‘Sarmat” equipped with 10-15 warheads will be
deployed in 2018 to replace РС-20А Voyevoda (NATO reporting name SS-18
Mod.1,2,3 Satan), whose term of life is expiring. But the problems with
auxiliary software and long pricelists might slow dawn the progress of this
- Contrary to Russia, the U.S. practice a budget friendly approach to its nuclear
modernization, which suppose a life-time for its missiles three times longer.
Résumé : While threatening a nuclear attack on the West, Russia definitely doesn`t mean
SNF, where the parties have a solid parity with somewhat U.S. tactical advantage. This is
a domain, where the parties practice a balanced behavior and stick to scrupulous
procedures, so we can hardy expect surprises here.
2. InstantPrompt Global Strike
The administration of George W. Bush Prompt Global Strike (PGS) in early 2000-s
considered such a weapon as a United States military effort to develop a system that can
deliver a precision conventional weapon strike anywhere in the world within one hour, in
a similar manner to a nuclear ICBM. The idea was suggested by Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld after fruitless efforts of U.S. DOD to develop effective means of
distraction, a strongholds of the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies in Tora Bora
mountainous district in Afghanistan. At that time it became clear that nuclear arms have a
huge drawback – it cannot be utilized even as mini yield nuclear weapon. U.S. experts
believe, that a PGS system could also be useful during a nuclear conflict, potentially
replacing nuclear weapons against 30 percent of targets. The PGS system will be
designed to complement existing American rapid-response forces, such as Forward
Deployed Forces, Air Expeditionary Groups (which can deploy within 48 hours) and
carrier battle groups (which can respond within 96 hours).
The PGS program encompasses numerous technologies, including conventional surface-
launched rockets and air-launched hypersonic missiles although no specific PGS system
has yet been finalized. Possible delivery systems include a rocket similar to existing
ICBMs, launched from land or via submarine, -an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile,
such as the Boeing X-51 or Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, a kinetic weapon launched
from an orbiting space platform. Later George W. Bush administration rejected the idea
because of fears that an ICBM-launched weapon would trigger the Russian nuclear-
launch warning system. The Obama administration revitalized the project, In mid 2000s
Congress looked skeptically at the PGS mission, it has restricted funding and suggested
some changes in funding for specific programs, that resulted in slashing the air-launched
option. Meanwhile Congress appropriated $65.4 million for this program in FY2014 and
$95.6 million in FY2015; the Obama Administration has requested $78.8 million for
Meanwhile the U.S.A. is still uncertain about the best option for PGS deployment. In
2010, the United States Air Force prototyped a PGS system based on a modified
Minuteman III ICBM as a most promising choice. On 11 April 2010, United States
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates indicated that the United States already had a Prompt
Global Strike capability. This coincided with the New START disarmament treaty signed
on 8 April 2010, which set new, lower limits on ballistic missiles and their warheads. The
treaty does not distinguish between conventional and nuclear versions of weapons,
meaning any ballistic PGS missiles and warheads would count toward the new limit.
However, the U.S. State Department has stated that this does not constrain plans for PGS
deployment, since current plans do not come near the limits. Thus appeared an alternative
glider concept, known as the AHW, which may be deployed on missiles based at sea, but
it was also rejected later. In January 2012 Pentagon stated its intention to resort to a
submarine option, but the progress was put on hold due to same concerns of risks to
trigger an accidental nuclear conflict with Russia. In February 2014, the U.S. Navy
solicited proposals for two-year industry trade studies to test the feasibility of developing
a hypersonic submarine-launched intermediate-range conventional prompt global strike
weapon within $5 million 13-month contracts. So far, there is no clarity which vehicle
qualifies as the most promising.
The results of prototype testing also do not propose a thriving optimism. On 18
November 2011, the first Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) glide vehicle was
successfully tested by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command as part of the
Prompt Global Strike program. The missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range
Facility in Hawaii, and struck a target at the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, over
3,700 kilometres (2,300 mi) away, in under 30 minutes. The prototype, which
incorporated technologies developed by Sandia National Laboratories, was used to gather
data to assist the development of future hypersonic warheads. The AHW followed an
endo-atmospheric non-ballistic trajectory. The second AHW test flight occurred on 25
August 2014 from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska and was terminated shortly
after liftoff due to an anomaly in the launch vehicle.
Despite the failure, the Kremlin considered the PGS project to be the prime challenge to
Russian national security and began to look for responses in a somewhat chaotic and
unlucky fashion. In December 2010, Russian military experts indicated that the
forthcoming S-500 missile defense system would include anti-hypersonic defenses. In
December 2012, commenting on the development of a replacement for its R-36M2
Voevoda ICBM, the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Sergey
Karakaev, stated that the missile will allow Russia "to realize such opportunities as the
creation of high precision strategic weapons with non-nuclear warheads and a practical
global range. Russia can create non-nuclear, high precision weapons based on
intercontinental rockets in the event that the USA also works on designing such a
weapon". On 11 December 2013, Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, speaking at the
State Duma, has warned that Russia will use nuclear weapons if it comes under an
attack, adding that this possibility serves as the main deterrent to potential provocateurs
and aggressors. He added, that Russia's Fund of Perspective Researches (FPI) will
develop a military response to the American Conventional Prompt Global Strike (PGS)
strategy, Rogozin told the State Duma. So far, the FPI has already looked at over a
thousand proposed ideas and plans to work on 60 projects, eight of which are top priority.
On 10 September 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin once again warned that
Russia will respond to the PGS strategy by upgrading strategic nuclear forces and also
developing air and space defense resources.
Résumé: Russian political and military decision-makers, at least publicly, are seriously
concerned about the prospects of U.S. efforts to construct a new type of high precision
hypersonic conventional weapon, which is not subject to international treaties, excepting
long-range ICBMs with conventional warheads within the framework of START-3 2010.
Meanwhile America did not succeed to create such weaponry and the prospects are
murky as far as it is a pretty costly enterprise. Russian nuclear and military threats were
aired recently in the context of PGS, but expert community did not treat them seriously:
Russia cannot resort to nuclear strike targeting a non-existing fantom challenge.
3. Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
The missiles of intermediate and short range relate particularly to European Theatre of
Operations, as far as the weapon of this kind is unable to reach the continental U.S.A.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) of 1987 eliminated nuclear and
conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges,
defined as between 500-5,500 km (300-3,400 miles), with the exception of air- and sea-
launched cruise missiles. Despite an evident success in Europe, the INF Treaty did not
create a parity of threats. The attempt of the USSR in 1962 was during a Cuban crisis to
break dawn this paradigm to threaten the U.S.A. with this kind of weapon failed, another
attempt in mid-80-s to deploy Intermediate missile systems “Pioneer” on Chukotka to
threated continental U.S.A. also failed. Moreover, the treaty stipulated different demands
to the parties: the USSR had to distract all the missiles as a class of weaponry the U.S.A.
had to withdraw the missiles from Europe to its territory without any obligation to
While following the terms of the Treaty, the USSR distracted twice as much of these
missiles than the U.S. (1846:846), and thrice as much the launches sites (825:289).
Russian distracted ballistic missiles were capable to deliver fore times more warheads
(3154:846). The U.S.A., on its part, distracted more cruise missiles BGM-109G
«Тоmahawk» (443:80)., but that did not have an impact on the balance in this class, as far
as the U.S. kept the dominance of sea-surface based and air-based cruise missiles ALCM-
B of the same type, which were excluded from the Treaty. The insult due to unfair terms
of the Treaty bled the hearts of the Russian brass for a long time, stimulating them to
revenge; since mid-2000s they began to put the Kremlin to walk away from the Treaty.
But for a time being the decision was to stay with the Treaty and seek the detours:
- Russia began to create a long-range ICBM capable to perform the tasks of an
intermediate-range one, that option not ruled out by the Treaty:
The U.S.A. believe that a new Russian long-range ICBM RS-24 Yars (NATO reporting
name: SS-27 Mod 2) was tested a number of times as an intermediate-range one. Russia
rejects any U.S. efforts to discuss the problem. U.S. experts suggest, that in such a
fashion Russia tests this missile`s ability to overcome the adversary`s Anti-Missile
Defense system due to the fact, that the tests took pale at a Sary Shagan anti-ballistic
missile testing facility. Nevertheless, this does not remove the issue from the bilateral
agenda and on 17 January 2015 the U.S.A. informed its allies about its concerns with this
- Russia initiated to create mobile a short-range ballistic missile system, which is
capable to operate as an intermediate-range one. Such an option is banned by
the Treaty, but it is difficult to produce evidence to support such charges.
A mobile short-range ballistic missile system 9K720 Iskander (NATO reporting name
SS-26 Stone) is a modification of a system Oka, with a range of application up to 450-
470 km. Ikander-K is armed with a new cruise missile P-500 with a range of application
up to 500 km, was successfully tested on a range 360 km. But this cruise missile is a
modification of the soviet intermediate-range RK-55 Granat (NATO reporting name
SSC-X-4 'Slingshot') with a range up to 2.600, which were banned under the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. So far there is no direct evidence that Russia
is in breach with the Treaty, only suspicions, but judging from Russia`s record in this
sensitive sphere, we can hardly expect fraud.
- Russia began constructing new sea surface-launched cruise missiles, not
banned by the Treaty.
In spring 2014 Russia declared its intentions to introduce to Caspian Flotilla 9 small
missile ships Project 21631 Type ‘Buyan-M’, (Tornado) a new generation of river-sea
type gunboat, armed with eight Club-S Kalibr anti-ship missiles. Three such gunboats are
already operational, the rest will join the Flotilla before 2018. 3M-54 is a Russian surface
ship and submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missile (NATO reporting name: SS-N-27A
"Sizzler") has a range 300 km, though there are no targets for this weapon in the Caspian
area. According to reports, Russia plans to arm diesel-electric submarines, Project 636
Varshavyanka (.NATO reporting name: Kilo), stationed in Novorossiysk Naval Base,
with new cruise missiles with a range 1.500 km, launched from standard torpedo tubes1.
Though this weapons system is banned by START-3 2010 Treaty for submarines, sea
surface-based sites are not ruled out. There are suggestions, that new unspecified cruise
missiles stationed on Buyan-type gunboats might provide them with a capability to hit up
to 70 targets on distance close to 1.500 km. These suggestions are not proves, so there is
still space for imagination.
- Russia started testing a new air-based cruise missile, using a nonstrategic
nuclear capable bomber Tu-22M3 as a launching site.
The bomber Tu-22M3 is not embraced by a START-3. In early 90-s Russian aerospace
companies Tupolev Design Bureau and Raduga Design Bureau tested a bomber Tu-22Ms
as a site for a launch vehicle Skif, aimed to launch into space a spacecraft with payload to
LEO of 17 tons from an altitude 12 km and speed 1800 km per minute. A supersonic
interceptor aircraft Mikoyan MiG-31 (NATO reporting name: Foxhound), which is also
not embraced by the Treaty, was viewed as another option, using an air-launching system
ISHIM (a 2005-2007 Russia-Kazakhstan project, though unsuccessful).
Résumé : Despite the hypothetical character of Russian alleged effort to detour the INF
Treaty 1987, on 27 February 2015 U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in the U.S.
Congress blamed Russia for breaching the Treaty and threatened to retaliate. Russia
doesn`t buy his arguments and present similar accusations, alleging that the U.S.A.
illegally construct long-range ICBMs, easily convertible into intermediate-range, to use
them as target-missiles while testing national ABM Defense system. That bring us to the
conclusion that both sides try to detour the Treaty, though this is a zero-result game.
We should keep in mind, that the arsenal of intermediate-range cruise missiles is a
strategic asset, capable to shift the nuclear balance. In November 2013 NATO launched
in Poland Steadfast Jazz exercises – the largest since 2006, involving around 6.000
troops, though with token U.S. participation. Its scenario presumed, among others, the
exchange of local nuclear strikes with Russia. The exercises resulted in Pentagon`s
conclusion, that nuclear escalation results in bilateral distraction, while high precision
1 On 17 September 2014 Admiral Aleksandr Viktorovich Vitko, commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, publicly
declared the plans to arm the diesel subs Varshavyanka with news unidentified cruisemissileswith a range 1.500
km. Actual Club-S Kalibr anti-ship missiles havea range of 300 km
conventional strikes might produce a positive outcome2. Russian leadership seems to
stick to the same mode of thinking.
Additionally, Russia believed the Treaty to be outdated due to the fact, that a number of
states beyond the Treaty like China, North Korea, India, Pakistan and Israel poses nuclear
weapons. Meantime a calm attitude of Washington to Russian strategic arms
modernization perspectives is explained by their belief in weakness of Russian economy,
its inability to ensure a long-lasting parity in military sphere. So far, there is little
evidence, that Russian nuclear threats mean an invitation to exchange strategic nuclear
strikes in Europe. Apparently, Putin means some other scenario.
4. Nonstrategic (tactical) nuclear weapons:
The specific feature of nonstrategic nuclear weapons is that the two nations have not
moved forward with efforts to negotiate limits on these weapons, a detailed accounting of
its force, both the warheads and the vehicles, was never provided or stipulated by
bilateral STARTs, the main focus of attention war traditionally paid to strategic forces.
On the other side, due to gradual evolution accuracy, this class of weapons is very similar
to strategic one. At the moment there is no reliable criterion to distinguish these types of
weapons: yield, precision, capacity to destruct strategic targets, range – all these
definitions turned to be very relative. De-facto we deal with the same type of weapons,
which is able to migrate from one class to another with the only difference, that
accounting and control systems for these classes vary substantially. And that poses a
problem: the major part of strategic nuclear arsenal is capable to do the tasks of tactical
and visa-versa, nonstrategic weapons may do the job of strategic one: many U.S. and
Russian heavy bombers can carry weapons of lower yields, and, as accuracies improved
for bombs and missiles, warheads with lower yields could achieve the same expected
level of destruction that had required larger warheads in early generations of strategic
weapons systems. In fact, the distinction lies in the character of a target to be destroyed,
but not in the yield or range capacity of the weapons.
By the end of a cold-war era thousands on nonstrategic nuclear munition remained
operational, but then both sides eliminated their number considerable on a voluntary
basis. Unlike strategic, tactical nuclear arsenal never was is a focus of public attention,
they were never negotiated as far as they never posed a threat to continental U.S.A. In
early 90-s Russia possessed around 15.000-25.000 of such weapons (precise data is
unavailable) and began eliminating them as fast as 2.000 pieces per year. U.S.A. reduces
its tactical nuclear arsenal by 75% since 1988 till 1994 (more than Russia), shut down
two out of 4 stockpiles on U.S. terrain. In 2000 the total number of U.S. nonstrategic
nuclear stockpiles in 7 European countries was slashed from 125 to 10. President George
W. Bush decided to make further encouraging cuts and dismantled 4 more storages in
2 Accordingto Russian massmedia reports
Greece and in Germany. Despite this, American deployments of nuclear arsenal in
Europe deliver U.S.A. advantages, which pose a subject for Russian discontent:
- Nuclear weapons deployed in Europe іs still viewed an important tool to
discourage Russia from nuclear attack of USA and its European allies. In fact,
this reveals a symmetric approach to Russian concept of preemptive nuclear
‘deescalative’ strike: American strategists also believe it to be a much better
option than cost and time consuming efforts to liberate Europe from Russian
- Now, when the cold war period is over, the deployment of American nuclear
arsenal on 6 stockpiles in 5 European NATO states with non-nuclear status
(Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey) is not appreciated as a normal
situation any longer. To make things worse, in case of a crises the U.S.A. plan
to use its nuclear capable aircraft only for a half of these gravity nuclear
bombs, the rest is supposed to be launched from the aircraft of these non-
nuclear states, which is in a sheer breach with the nonproliferation regime.
After the USSR demise the parties relied on different philosophies of nuclear arms
engagement: in 1999 the Russian leadership embraced to develop and modernize
nonstrategic nuclear arsenal as a compensation effort to counterbalance the Western
growing advantage in conventional armaments. Since 2009 Russian strategists discussed
the option to utilize the nonstrategic arsenal in regional conflicts and the conflicts in the
proximity of its borders, preemptive strikes included (the case of Ukraine). Meanwhile,
the National Defense strategies of 2010 and 2014 previewed such an option only for a
specific case, critical for the very existence of a Russian state. The problem is whether
Kremlin leaders will act in line with the spirit of its own strategy.
The West has a different approach; The Europe, primarily Great Britain, does not view
nonstrategic nuclear weapon as an important tool, in 2009 Germany even proposed its
complete withdrawal from Europe, though not realized. U.S.A. consider nonstrategic
nuclear weapons in Europe as an insurance from Russian unpredictable conduct in
Europe. The difference of approaches with Russia lies in the fact that Obama
Administration ruled out the engagement of nuclear nonstrategic arms in a regional
conflict, primarily with a nonnuclear state.
At the moment the U.S.A. has at its disposal 760 pieces of nonstrategic nuclear gravity
bombs, of which 260 are deployed in Europe. Russia has much more and of different
variety – from 1.000 to 6.000 (3.800 according to other estimations), precise data is
unavailable. Russian dominance in this area is undisputable. Here are the general
assessments of Russian nonstrategic munition arsenal: Army has 170, Anti-Aircraft
forces - 430, Russian Air Forces – 730, Navy – 700. According to other estimations
Russia has 1.000 nuclear munitions: Army – 201, Anti-Aircraft forces – 166, RuAF –
334, Navy – 330.
At the moment the U.S. politics and experts do not have a common approach how to
respond to this disparity: some of them believe that the problem doesn`t exist, some
believe it appropriate to produce more weapons of this type, facing Russian aggression in
Ukraine. There are opinions, that the U.S. on the contrary should encourage Russia to
mutually downgrade the existing level of this type of weapons, as well as to increase the
cooperation with Russia and upgrade the verification measures of its preservation and
reductiondistraction. Besides, in 2001 the U.S. downgraded the role of tactical nuclear
weapons in its containment strategy in view of development of ABM defense systems
and non-conventional means of distraction. It was only in 2012, when President Barak
Obama renewed his attention to strategic nuclear forces in terms of financing its
modernization program after 2020.
In recent years the Congress and U.S. Administration approach to nonstrategic nuclear
weapons perspectives was inconsistent, the problem was ignored. In early 2000 the
Congress aired its concern of the problem, primarily in terms that the existing mutual
arsenal should be reduced, the Russia one should be properly safeguarded from steeling.
It even appropriated $5 ml to finally account this arsenal, but in the long run the issue
was abandoned. In 2009 Washington again revealed some concern about the growing
disparity and the focus of Russian on this type of weaponry, but again with no tangible
results to follow. In 2009-2010 while elaborating in Strategic Concept NATO countries
discussed the expediency to completely withdraw U.S. nonstrategic nuclear arsenal from
Europe, but this approach was rejected due to the assumption, that it is a nuclear defense
alliance, which relies on a combination of nuclear and conventional weapons in its
endeavor to contain Russia in Europe. In this respect the U.S.A. viewed this weapon
primarily as a tool to protect its European allies, not to defend the continental U.S.A. At
the moment B-61-3. B-61-4 and B-61-10 versions gravity bombs are the only U.S.
nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, and they are undergoing renovation to fit modern
standards on maintenance.
Previously NATO debated the necessity to modernize this weapon more radically, after
the Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2014 the approach shifted:
- The role of U.S. tactical nuclear weapon as a tool of containment policy grew
- U.S. nonstrategic and strategic nuclear weapon should be estimated indivisibly,
- The importance of French and Britain`s nuclear arsenal visibly grew.
Despite the problem of aging the aircraft carriers, U.S. still preserve considerable
capacity to engage its nonstrategic B-61 bombs in Europe: the life time of nuclear
capable F-15 and F-16, as well as European Tornado are approaching its end. Modern
aircraft has problems: Eurofighter (to substitute Tornado) in not nuclear capable, while
new nuclear capable F-35 is viewed, primarily in Germany, as too costly in maintenance
and warfare. But the delivery systems were traditionally treated in NATO as technical,
not political issues. A couple of years ago the Pentagon declared, that in case European
allies are unable to maintain old nuclear capable aircraft or to procure new ones, U.S. Air
Force may do the nuclear mission in Europe instead of them. Under new grave
circumstances of Russian nuclear threat the issue of delivery is of secondary importance
for the allies. NATO responded to Russian aggression by building up its conventional
military forces, where their advantage is considerable.
Meanwhile Kremlin in moving in the direction of inventing new concepts of nuclear
warfare on the brink of defense war. At the early stage of war in Ukraine Russia declared
that it stands ready to resort to preemptive nuclear strike on NATO countries, failing to
specify the targets. To support the threat, Russia declared its intention to deploy nuclear
weapon in Kaliningrad enclave and in Crimea, which resulted in raising the threat of
U.S.NATO-Russia nuclear conflict to the level of the cold war period. Consequently
Washington does not rule out the possibility to appear unexpectedly in a situation of
considerable nuclear confrontation with Russia in the context of Russian aggression in
Ukraine or with a NATO member-state.
Résumé: Mr.Putin and his team members, while threatening to engage to a nuclear attack
against the West in the context of Russia-Ukraine war, seem to mean a nonstrategic one.
He resorted to this option while the West never gave him a single pretext of nuclear theat.
In such a fashion Mr.Putin tries to constrain the West from meddling with conventional
armament into the current conflict with Ukraine. But the Achilles point of this threat is
the lack of pretext and specific targets, due to which the experts put this option under
serious doubt. Even in March 2015 the U.S.A. doesn`t take seriously these threats due to
lack of direct Russia-NATOU.S. direct military confrontation, keeping in mind, that
nonstrategic nuclear weapons is designed to hit the command centers, air bases, logistic
infrastructure of the troops on assault.
It is important to note, that on the eve of escalation of Russia-NATO confrontation
NATO`s conduct with Russia mitigated any possible military confrontation. After 1991
the U.S. always persistently proposed Russia to gradually reduce the number of
nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe on a bilateral basis, but this approach never
proved to be a success. Russia always demanded that the U.S. withdraw its arsenal from
the European soil as a precondition for discussions on reduction. Russia argued, that its
nonstrategic nuclear arsenal is totally located on the Russian soil, contrary to the U.S.A.
The present escalation has a potential to transform the U.S. stance on the issue to a more
5. An obscure issue of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Crimea
In spring 29014 and late in mid-March 2015 Russian MoD announced its plans to deploy
in Crimean Gvardeiskoye Air Base maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft
Ilyushin Il-38 "Dolphin"3 and Tupolev Tu-1424, as well as long-range strategic and
3 Il-38 "Dolphin" - NATO reporting name: May
4 Tu-142 - NATO reporting name: Bear F/J
maritime nuclear capable strike bomber Tupolev Tu-22M35. On 14 August President
Putin publicly confirmed these intentions. In December 2014 rumors surfaced, that
Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons are already deployed in Crimea.
- The news serves as a pretext for a number of U.S. congressmen to argue
against further limitation of nuclear arms in accordance with provisions of
- NATO’s top commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove has confirmed that
Russian forces “capable of being nuclear” are being moved to the Crimean
Peninsula, but also acknowledged that NATO doesn’t know if nuclear
warheads are actually in place.
- MFA of Russia stated, that the deployment is question is a response to
deployment of U.S. nuclear capable aircraft to Baltic states. Minister S.Lavrov
argued the legitimacy of Russian activity due to the notion that Russian
Federation is free to move nuclear weapons on its sovereign territory Crimea
included. On 26 April 2015 Russia denounced that statement.
As we see, the issue of nonstrategic nuclear weapons is already a point in the agenda of
Russia-Ukraine-the West crisis of relationship. Though leading American experts6 in
early 2015 doubted the probability of the fact that Russia deployed in annexed Crimea a
mobile nuclear capable short-range ballistic missile system 9K720 Iskander (NATO
reporting name SS-26 Stone).
Here we should keep in mind the following : the presence of Russian dual-capable non-
strategic nuclear forces in Crimea is not new; they have been there for decades. They
were there before the breakup of the Soviet Union, they have been there for the past two
decades, and they are there now. In Soviet times, this included nuclear-capable warships
and submarines, bombers, army weapons, and air-defense systems. Since then, the
nuclear warheads for those systems were withdrawn to storage sites inside Russia, like
Belgorod-22, some 690 kilometers to the north. Nearly all of the air force, army, and air-
defense weapon systems were also withdrawn. Only naval nuclear-capable forces
associated with the Black Sea Fleet area of Sevastopol stayed, although at reduced levels.
Yet with the Russian annexation of Crimea, a military reinforcement of military facilities
across the peninsula has begun. This includes deployment of mainly conventional forces
but also some systems that are considered nuclear-capable. Though the deployment of
Strategic nuclear forces in Crimea is out of the question.
Naval Nuclear-Capable Forces:
The Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol includes nuclear-capable cruisers, destroyers,
frigates, corvettes, and submarines. They are capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles
5 Tu-22M3 - NATO reporting name: Backfire-С,range up to 2.400 km, Russian classification- long-range,as a
nuclear vehicle– mid-range.
6 Including Hans M.Kristensen,director of the Nuclear Information Projectat the Federation of American Scientists
and torpedoes. But the warheads for those weapons are thought to be in central storage in
In mid-March 2015 the Kremlin announced the deployment of 10 long-range nuclear
capable carrier-bombers Tu-22M3, armed with cruise missiles X-15 and X-22, for week-
long drills till 21 March. Western experts consider their deployment to Crimea on a
permanent basis as illogical and pointless due to several reasons. Russia appears to have
four operational Backfire bases:
- Olenegorsk Air Base on the Kola Peninsula (all naval aviation is now under the
tactical air force),
- Shaykovka Air Base near Kirov in Kaluzhskaya Oblast near Belarus in the
Western Military District (many of the Backfires intercepted over the Baltic
Sea in recent months have been from Shaykovka);
- Belaya in Irkutsk Oblast in the Central Military District;
- and Alekseyevka near Mongokhto in Khabarovsk Oblast in the Eastern
- A fifth base – Soltsy Air Base in Novgorod Oblast in the Western Military
District – is thought to have been disbanded.
The apparent plan to deploy Backfires in Crimea is kind of strange because the
intermediate-range bomber doesn’t need to be deployed in Crimea to be able to reach
potential targets in Western Europe. Another potential mission could be for maritime
strikes in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea, but deployment to Crimea will only give
it slightly more reach in the southern and western parts of the Mediterranean Sea (see
map). And the forward deployment would make the aircraft much more vulnerable to
Iskander Missile Launchers
In May 2, 2014 Major General Alexander Rozmaznin of the General Staff of the
Ukrainian Armed Forces, reportedly stated that a “division” of Iskander had entered
Crimea and that “every missile system is capable of carrying nuclear warheads…” But
Western experts question its credibility, arguing, that in fact “Iskander missiles” were
mistaken for the Bastion-P (K300P or SSC-5) costal defense cruise missile system, which
look very similar.
The commander of Russia’s strategic missile forces, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev,
recently ruled out rumors about deployment of strategic missiles in Crimea, but future
plans for the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles in Crimea are less clear. Russia is
currently upgrading short-range ballistic missile brigades from the SS-21 (Tochka) to the
SS-26 (Iskander-M) missile. Four of ten brigades have been upgraded or are in the
process of upgrading (all in the western and southern military districts), and a fifth
brigade will receive the Iskander in late-2014. In 2015, deployment will broaden to the
Central and Eastern military districts.
The Iskander division closest to Crimea is based near Molkino in the Krasnodar Oblast.
So for the reports about deployment of an Iskander division to Crimea to be correct, it
would require a significant change in the existing Iskander posture, which evoke
skepticism about the rumors, at least in a short-term perspective.
Russian air defense forces such as the S-300 still have an important secondary nuclear
mission, despite the fact, that roughly 60% of the Soviet-era inventory of warheads for air
defense forces has been eliminated. After Russia annexed Crimea, the Russian military
declared plans to deploy a complete integrated air defense system in Crimea, and some of
the former Ukrainian S-300 sites may be re-populated in the future. Though in March
2014 two Russian S-300 units moved promptly into the Gvardiesky Air Base, there is not
verified information that they possess nuclear munition.
Résumé: the rumors about the presence of Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons in
Crimea reflects a general problem with this kind of armament: the majority on nuclear-
capable arms are of double-capable, which make it difficult to present hard evidence
about nuclear munition. We may add, the Russian behavior in this respect indicates on its
reluctance to disrupt the existing nuclear balance with NATO, nonstrategic nuclear
6. U.S. National Missile Defense system
Public statements of Russian key decision-makers declared U.S. National Missile
Defense European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) poses a principle challenge to
Russian strategic nuclear arsenal. Here we distinguish two points:
- EPAA is challenging the effectiveness of Russian ICBM attack in case of nuclear
conflict between two super states (Russian truly believe in such eventuality and upgrade
their readiness level)
- EPAA in challenging the effectiveness on Russian non-strategic nuclear attack
on the European soil, because Kremlin is tending to rely on this nuclear component more
heavily in recent years.
It seems to be the reason to explain Russian efforts to bar the deployment of EPAA since
2000, even resorting to nuclear blackmail European countries-hosts of this American
system. In particular, the Kremlin threatened Poland and Denmark to targets its ICBMs
on their national military installations, though with zero success. Russian nuclear
blackmail in the context of Russia-Ukraine war deserves a detailed analysis.
The 1972 Soviet-American ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty presumed, that each
country was allowed two sites at which it could base a defensive system, one for the
capital and one for ICBM silos. Under the terms of the treaty, each party was limited to
two ABM complexes, each of which was to be limited to 100 anti-ballistic missiles. But
the main principles of the Treaty gradually underwent considerable erosion.
American attempts in 1983, 1993, 1999 to modernize NMD did not ruin the Treaty, being
more conceptual and theoretical rather than practical efforts. But the situation basically
changed in 2001, when President George W. Bush. announced, that NMD will secure not
only the terrains of the U.S.A., but also its close allies, that it turns to be international: in
2007 there were 17 states-partners, nowadays 24 states-neighbors of both Russia and
China. In June 2002 United Stated withdrew from the Treaty, thought the START-3 2010
relates nuclear arsenals limitation with ABM systems. In September 2009 the U.S.
launched a EPAA program as a new approach, based on Aegis sea and ashore platforms.
The main component of the U.S. NMD system is a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense
(GBMD) anti-ballistic missiles with so far limited capabilities: they are able to intercept
only single-block warheads of only ballistic missiles (cruise-missiles excluded), which to
some extent prove it was designed against Iranian threat. Additionally Pentagon deployed
a program of sea-based Aegis NMD, embracing 24 US Navy ships in 2011and aiming to
raise their number up to 84 to strengthen EPAA. In 2015 almost 50% of the EPAA is
planned to be sea-based, that is not on the continental U.S.A., but close to Russia
boarders - a factor, that should shift the equilibrium of nuclear strategic arsenals (if a
Russian point of view on EPAA is correct).
In March 2013 U.S. Administration cancelled the 4-th phase of EPAA to calm down
Russian concerns, though with little success. The whole system of EPAA is not fully
operational, but this is a matter of time. Though the prime goal of EPAA is to defend the
U.S.A. and its European allies from Iranian ICBMs, their covert goal is to intercept
Russian missiles as well, and they have all the reasons to do this.
The Kremlin is concerned primarily with the perspective that EPAA might considerably
downgrade the Russian strategic nuclear capabilities, thus shifting the balance in its
favor. The European component of U.S. NMD program was initially launched in 2004 by
G.W.Bush Administration to counter Iranian missile threat, which was appreciated in the
Kremlin as a deception tactics. In 2007 Russia launched a number of initiatives to
integrate Russia in the system and thus to discourage the U.S. from deployments in
Czech Republic and in Poland, though with no success and escalation of arms race in this
area as an aftermath. In August 2007 Russia deployed new NMD system elements S-300
‘Triumph’ in the Moscow area as well as early warning electronic stations ‘Voronezh’.
Despite the provisions of the last START-3 Treaty 2010, which interrelate the strategic
nuclear arsenal with NMD systems, in June 2014 Boeing successfully tested a new
vehicle, capable to intercept the ICBM on its most vulnerable phase of trajectory.
Besides, U.S. successfully tested a new ТHAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense)
vehicle, designed to intercept inter-medium and short range missiles within the concept
of NMD system. Since 2014 a Spanish naval base Rota became a home for two U.S.
Aegis-capable destroyers, in 2015 two other Aegis ships will join them. In 2015 Romania
is getting ready to become a home of first land-based Aegis-Ashore deployments,
followed by Poland in 2018. On the other side, starting since January 2015 Russia began
testing the new NMD system of ‘Almaz-Antey’ JSC.
In the context of developing the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Russian
leaders normally behave prudently. We note contradiction in key Russian statements on
the eve of anti-Ukrainian aggression: on 19 December 2013 during press-conference
Mr.Putin decided to denounce the deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander tactical
missile systems in Kaliningrad enclave, which did not go in line with the statement of the
MoD in Western military district on the eve. Meanwhile such a deployment is treated in
Russia as an ‘adequate’ response to EPAA building-up and pose a direct threat to U.S.
anti-missile and radar installations in Redzikowo, Poland.
The phases of EPAA deployment were announced in advance and were not a surprise for
Russia: in Romania – 2015, in Poland – 2018. Technically at present these elements of
U.S. NMD system are useless against Russian ICBMs, targeting the continental U.S.A.,
due to the fact, that the trajectories of the latters are much closer to Iceland and Scotland,
located far to the North from Poland and Romania. Besides, the capacity of these
elements is limited in terms of the quantity of the missiles-interceptors. But EPAA has a
capacity to effectively develop its capabilities and Russia is fully aware of it.
Résumé: it seems that while the confidence level is almost next to zero, the parties strive
to utilize their international obligations to disguise their efforts to achieve certain tactical
advantages. Russian nuclear blackmail in reality has nothing to do with the U.S. NMD
EPAA deployment, but as a specific effort to gain ‘sovereignty on impunity’ in Ukraine
and, perhaps, in Moldova. The bizarre Russian tactic is proactive: de-facto NATO and
U.S.A. never happened to present a single pretext for Russia to raise concerns.
7. The political dimension of Russia-U.S. nuclear confrontation
It is evident, that the West did not provoke nuclear confrontation with Russia in the
context of Russia-Ukraine war. The truth is that instead of incorporation Russia in its
system of security and economic institutions, the West tried to assist Russia in
establishing its own political, economic and civil institutions, which could approximate
Russia to the West in the qualitative sense.
- Western stated supported the Russian programs, aimed to democratize the
- Before the default of 1998 the West supported the Russian budget for 6 years
by means of IMF instruments,
- A lot of Western counsellors were engaged to economic and other branches of
the Russian government,
- The West supported the Russian government during internal political crises: in
1993 while B.Yeltsin confronted the parliament militarily and during 1996
But the new Russian government disappointed the West:
- After 1996 financial crisis the Russian government on the wake of oil prices
rise rapidly developed its addiction to energy export policy,
- Russian political system quickly transformed into the dominance of tycoons,
later into Putin`s authoritarianism.
- Civil society did not manage to root in Russia, the very term ‘democracy’ was
deeply compromised among the constituency. Instead the logo ‘stability’ was
highly praised. Russian liberals, which were the object of some hopes in the
West, were successfully marginalized and sidelined by Mr.Putin.
- Moscow proceeded to strive for a Great Power status.
Contrary to Kremlin`s allegations, the West didn`t pursue the aim to isolate Russia
internationally, instead it proposed a junior partner status:
- In 1991 Russia was allowed to preserve the permanent position in the UN
- In 1996 Russia joined the Council of Europe,
- In 1998 Russia joined the G-7, effectively transforming it into G-8,
- In 2002 a Russia-NATO Council was established to promote mutual military
- Russia established strong economic cooperation with EU, enforced in 2003 by
a 4-dimension concept,
- In 2012 Russia joined WTO,
- In the political dimension all Russian leaders enjoyed personal contacts with
their counterparts in the U.S.A. and in Europe.
Thus the principal goal remained unachievable: Russia was denied the special privilege
status to enjoy the spheres of interests on the terrains of the former USSR. The West was
concerned with Russian behavior in Chechnya and in the Northern Caucasus, which were
considered as indicators of human rights violations, with a colonial-style policy and
disproportionally strong influence of secret services on the decision-making process.
NATO`s expansion eastwards did not expected to be encounter strong Russian objection.
The key point of different approached of the parties was the following: the West
perceived the ‘colored’ revolutions in Georgia 2003, in Ukraine 2004, in Kirgizstan 2005,
as well as NATO expansion to the east as the product of the peoples` initiative activity
and the freedom of speech. Russia, on the contrary, never recognized any kind of
unauthorized initiative activity of the people and keeps interpreting it as a clandestine
Western attempt to disrupt a Russian political system and to undermine its international
standing. The Maidan February 2014 events were read the same way on the background
of the fact, that the West was gradually losing interest to Russia, Russian elite grew
suspicious towards the West and learned the means to use the West in favor of its
corporate interests. But Russian leaders kept striving for an equal status to the Western
leaders, which is read as a guarantee from meddling into Russian domestic policies, as
well as downgrading of a threat to intervene militarily while the gap of disparity in
capabilities of conventional arms with the Western is growing.
Resume: while commencing its nuclear blackmail the Kremlin believed, that the era of
Western and American global dominance in over, that the ‘equal status’ in unachievable
by peaceful means, thus turning a war in Ukraine into another step in a chain of events,
aimed to escalate the tensions in Russia-U.S. relationship starting from 2012.
8. Psychological reasons of nuclear confrontation:
There are reasons to believe that military or economic preconditions for the current
nuclear confrontation, created by the West to provoke Russia, are nonexistent, which lead
us to the conclusion to seek them far beyond the politics or economy, but on much more
delicate layers of comprehension - in ideology and psychology.
We exclude ideology due to the fact, that before the second tenure of Mr.Putin Russia
didn`t have a state ideology according to the Constitution, and prominent the ‘United
Russia’ political party was too volatile in its ideological posture. The situation changed in
2012, when the state-patriotic ideology was shaped and became dominant, going hand in
hand with the concept of the “Russian World”, being a too recent event.
So, the roots of the problem should be searched in psychology of Russian political class,
which appreciate nuclear weapons and a symbol of a Great state and a sign of self-
impunity, and that is the reason for Mr.Putin to remind Western leaders now and then in
the context of the war in Ukraine that Russia possesses nuclear weapons. But the real
problem is that Russia is concerned with fantom threats:
- U.S.A. is implementing a regime change strategy in Russia, regardless how
queer it may sound to expert community,
- U.S.A. is in the process of planning a military aggression against Russia.
At least according to public statements, on may come to the conclusion that Russian
leadership stands ready to launch a nuclear attack to counteract these two fantom threats,
which sounds unrealistic. What is more reasonable is that Mr.Putin and his ‘team’ ran out
of patience to wait until the West ‘pay a proper tribute of respect’ to them. We believe
that neither a shift of nuclear balance, nor economic disproportions, nor the competition
of governance of two political systems serves as a pretext of the present confrontation. It
is the defective state of mind of the Russian political class, which came to the conclusion,
that in case the ‘equal partner status’ is doubtful to be granted by the West, let it be an
‘equal adversary’ status to be granted de-facto. The belief in availability of sufficient
resources to back-up this aspiration and the belief in impunity are the backbones of such
an endeavor. Russian-Western partnership rests in shatters not because the Western
leaders are stubborn and cunning, as Russians argue, but due to the growing notion in the
West, that Russian political class is not ‘normal’ (or standard) with an appropriate sense
of responsibility to its nation and the planet, but an abnormal entity with exaggerated
sense of self-respect and deep belief of self-impunity for any crime due to a nuclear
status, achieved not by them, but by their predecessors during the Soviet Union epoch.
The signs of collapse of the U.S. ‘reset’ strategy first emerged during Syrian crisis then in
Snowden case, then when Western sanctions were lifted in view of Crimea annexation
and military aggression in the Eastern Ukraine with a tendency to be transformed into a
nuclear confrontation. The swift reversal of Russian security policy caught the U.S.A.
and Europe by surprise, which explains their initial soft and cautious responses in
attempts to avoid a ‘cold-war-2’ scenario. But in the end of 2014 the situation looked
- Trust and the practice of personal contacts between Mr.Putin and Western
leaders were ruined completely.
- Russian military activity in Ukraine, in the Baltics and in the Black sea area
logically resulted in a dramatic change of defense and political domains with a
tendency to be converted in a pre-war state of alert.
- The latent dynamics of the parties to shift the nuclear balance in strategic
deterrence gave place to rapid escalation, but not in the segment of ICBMs, but
in the segment of Intermediate-range and Short-range Missiles, which pose a
threat to European allies primarily. What strikes is the fact, that such activity
does not pose a threat to continental U.S.A., but create challenges to Russia`s
main trade partners, the trade revenues from which is a bulk of Russian
- It is necessary to note, that Russia`s efforts to reorient its export strategy,
including arms sales, from Europe to China has a potential to redraw the
military balance in Asia to Russia`s disadvantage due to following factors:
o The trend questions the perspectives of Russia`s economic cooperation
with Japan, India and Korea, as far as Russian arms sales to China
contributes considerably to China`s military build-up,
o The trend created a challenge for Russia to appear as a junior partner of
China, keeping in mind that thus Russia trades technological
dependence from the West for economic dependence from China.
This kind of Russian maneuvering created serious challenges to its Western neighbors,
but also reveals a radical change of the mode of military thinking between the leaders of
present Russia and the former USSR, the latter being more responsible and restrained in
its last decades.
Russian nuclear aggressive posture with elements of blackmail within the context of
Russia-Ukrainian war should be treated as intentional bluffing, caused by apprehension
that NATO might use its conventional forces in Ukraine to withstand Russian aggression.
It was exactly to prevent this kind of scenario that Russia threatens to resort to
nonstrategic nuclear weapons.
The bulk of Russian Strategic Forces is still composed of ICBMs (intercontinental
ballistic missile) arsenal in silos and on mobile ground platforms, 23 of which are
located in the area behind the Urals, and only 13 are SLBMs (submarine-launched
ballistic missile). At the same time Russia launches a new Borei-class SSBNs (ballistic
missile submarine) capable to evade the U.S. NMD (national missile defense), though
vulnerable to U.S. submarine – hunters. The U.S.A. on the contrary keep 23 of its
nuclear forces on SSBNs in the proximity to Russian borders, which will prove difficult
to be intercepted by Russian ABM systems, while only 13 keeping located deep in the
continental U.S.A., shielded by NMD in Alaska.
The confrontation has a tendency to rise in two basic spheres: Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Forces (INF) and NMD. Here we believe important to make a following
conclusion: notwithstanding the zero balance in numbers, U.S. at the moment preserve a
considerable advantage over Russia in its capacity to deliver a large-scale strategic strike.
This affirmation is supported by following considerations:
- The role of allies: in case of real nuclear confrontation Russia will have to
attack both the continental U.S.A. and its prominent European NATO allies, at
least nuclear armed Great Britain and France, as well as hosts of U.S.
nonstrategic nuclear stockpiles Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey
and of European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) of U.S. NMD like
Poland, Czech, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain and Denmark, while U.S. and its
European allies will target the territory of Russia only. Even more, European
allies provide the U.S. the capacity to strike Russia from its immediate
proximity to the borders, whereas Russia doesn`t possess such an opportunity.
- The geography of launchers` installation:
- 23 of Russian ICBMs are located on the continental RF thus making the
timing to strike the targets on continental U.S.A the longest. The SLBMs,
which can significantly slash the timing due to launching form immediate
proximity of U.S. borders, comprise only 13. Besides, SLBMs provide
stealthiness, thus making launching pads invisible for preemptive strike.
- On the contrary, 23 of the U.S. nuclear strategic arsenal are SLBMs, which are
capable to strike on Russian targets from the immediate proximity, thus
crippling the Russian NMD system. Additionally, the U.S.A. created a mighty
fleet of submarine hunters, capable to strike Russian SSBNs before the latters
can launch their missiles.
- The role of new systems of NMD and Anti-aircraft defense systems: here we
have the following tendencies:
- The expansion and approximation of the American NMD systems, primarily
EPAA enable the U.S.A. with tangible advantages in terms of additional
capabilities to intercept Russian missiles, targeting European allies, on the
most vulnerable section of their flight trajectory. Russian is unable to deploy its
capabilities in the immediate proximity of U.S. borders to intercept
adversaries` warheads on the most vulnerable section of the flight trajectory,
which brings them to the necessity to develop its NMD systems, trying to
intercept adversaries` warheads right over own territory. This approach is more
costly and risky.
- As a partial compensation, Russian NMD system on its western borders allows
it to gradually diminish the threat, posed by U.S. and European tactical nuclear
- The geography of nuclear warheads prepositioning in Europe: Russian-
American verification mechanism on the list of strategic nuclear stockpiles and
their actual status is still effectively in place, it occurs once in 6 months. The
deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapon on the Crimea terrain
(Gvardeyskoe airbase for Tu-22M3) in hypothetically possible, formally it
even won`t be in breach with the existing U.S.-Russian agreements. But
politically it will be harmful and militarily will not add capabilities to Russian
aviation on the European theater, which are already provided by Shaykovka
airbase, Kaluzhskaya oblast, near the Belorussian border. Kremlin seems to
have grasped this idea in late April 2015.
So, the most probable reason for the Russian leadership to resort to nuclear blackmailing
of the West was the concern over the NATO superiority in regular arms, specifically in
modern informational and fire-control systems. Russian prominent military expert
A.Hodarenko has a following assessment of the current military situation:
- …At the moment two soviet-style armies of different modernization degree are
waging war in the East of Ukraine, they both do not utilize modern armament
and new ways to conduct military operations. But if you fancy from sheer
hypothetical standpoint, that U.S. and European military volunteers and
servicemen on vacations possessing their standard military equipment will join
Ukrainian army to withstand Russian aggression, the outcome of military
confrontation will be easy to predict – the military forces of Russia and
separatists will be able to held their positions only for a few hours.
The expert acknowledges the lack of modern armament and military equipment in
Russian military to effectively withstand NATO forces and produces a recommendation:
- Under no circumstances Russia shouldn`t be dragged directly into the military
conflict in Eastern Ukraine. At the moment Russian Army and Navy are not apt
to withstand a large-scale war with NATO, using only conventional weapons.
Here comes the main expert`s recommendation: there is high necessity to accelerate
(using Bolshevik-style approaches) the process, aimed to strengthen the military
capabilities of Russia, able to fit the highest standards on waging a modern war.
We resume, that the present Russian nuclear rhetoric has the roots in the deep
backwardness of its conventional forces and serve as a political message to the U.S.A.
and NATO, that these political players should abstain under any circumstances from
engagement into the military conflict in Ukraine, so far as this conflict is vitally
important to the Russian national security interests, and that Russia stand ready event to
resort to use its nonstrategic nuclear weapons in order to resolve the situation in its favor,
regardless whether the West would consider its action legitimate or not.
Such an assessment is backed by the statement of Sergey Karakaiev, strategic nuclear
forces commander: he admitted in 2014 a zero upgrade of the alert level in Russian
IBCMs while Russia grabbed Crimes as well as zero targeting on the missiles` on board
PCs, which goes in line with the 1994 bilateral U.S.-Russia agreement. He added, that
Russian doesn`t plan to deploy strategic nuclear capabilities in Crimea. The expert
community in the U.S.A. and Europe also treated skeptically Putin`s nuclear blackmail,
keeping in mind, that the U.S. have national capabilities to verify such allegations and
detect the material evidence. There is no date supporting the information that Russian
nonstrategic nuclear capabilities were on alert either. We know, that tactical missiles
Iskander were moved to Kaliningrad in summer 2014 and nuclear capable middle range
bombers Tu-22M3 were relocated to Crimea though only for the period of military drills.
Both systems are nuclear capable.
Politically the West responded to Putin`s nuclear blackmail with restrain: U.S.A. and
NATO made numerous statements of their reluctance to interfere directly into the
Russian-Ukrainian war both due to considerable costs and to high probability of nuclear
escalation. Meanwhile U.S. and NATO are fully aware about the Russian actual level of
military capabilities and realize that the direct nuclear confrontation will bring advantage
to no party and it will result in global catastrophe.
Even more, Russian nuclear rhetoric is counterproductive due to the fact that it
effectively contributes to increase of U.S. and NATO defense expenditures, military
activity and deployments of troops close to Russian western borders, and it will facilitate
its` prompt modernization and upgrade.
V. Lessons learned for Ukraine:
The rise of military confrontation between two key players in the context of Russia-
Ukraine war creates new threats and challenges that require from Ukraine an appropriate
response. The situation is aggravated by the perspective to dragged on the military
conventional confrontation between U.S.NATO – Russian-Ukraine on a decade, will
require considerable resources, adjustments of domestic policies, elaborating new
1. Russian political elite views the events in Ukraine from the standpoint of crowd-
versus-elite attitude to the world political evolution. Thus, Russian nuclear
blackmail indicates, that this political elite appreciates the ongoing war in
Ukraine as an aftermath of clandestine confrontation between the West and
Russia, resulted due to a failed attempt of the West to integrate Russia into
Euro-Atlantic system of security.
For Ukraine it doesn`t mean the necessity to regenerate its nuclear status of early 90-s,
but testifies more than vividly, that even in the midterm perspective Ukraine in unable to
safeguard its national security as a “non-bloc” state. At the same time, even at the present
time, then the realistic perspectives to join NATO and EU are more than vague, the
political class of Ukraine should invent and present to the nation at least for a midterm
perspective a doable practical model of a modernized Western-style Ukraine – non-
member state of both EU and NATO.
The connotation of both EU and NATO non-member state status does not mean a mere
implementation of Ukraine-EU AA and DCFTA (Association and Free trade)
agreements, but much more flexibility and sovereignty in taking specific course of
actions toward this goal beyond the framework of the mentioned documents. This tactics
will definitely be more complicated and will demand certain creativity, than following
the Brussels prescriptions, but such a model of country`s modernization will definitely be
more attractive ideologically to the whole nation and will safeguard from further erosion
of its atonic unity. Such an approach will provide Ukraine with potential to project
positive ideological influence on bordering regions in Belorussia and Russia, populated
with ethnically kindred to Ukraine inhabitants.
2. The noise around the possible deployment of Russian non-strategic nuclear
weapons in the annexed Crimea and the Western response to it indicate, that
notwithstanding all political allegations and statements, Russian leaders do not
enjoy enough confidence of the peninsula’s new status after a year of
occupation and, evidently, does not rule out the option that the Crimea either be
returned to Ukraine, or be granted a kind of independent status. The principal
finding is that Russia does no feel free to utilize the peninsular as a definitely
integral part of the Federation which entails all the legal consequences.
From the political standpoint the situation is currently utilized by Kremlin leaders in their
bellicose rhetoric against deployment of American nuclear capable fighter jets in Poland
and Romania, though on a rotational basis.
Finally, the swift transforming of Russian public rhetoric from overture-styles advancing
of the very idea of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons to the Crimea in May-
December 2014 to resolute refusal of such allegations in early 2015 on the highest
political level indicates on the following assumptions:
- Russia evidently acknowledges the questionable current status of the Crimea,
- It acknowledges, that deployment of non-strategic nuclear weapons in the
Crimea will be detrimental to the remnants of the confidence level, necessary
to maintain the regime of effective control over Strategic nuclear forces
globally, event keeping in mind, that tactical nuclear weapons technically are
not embraced with bilateral legal obligations.
3. The probability for Ukraine to suffer from Russian non-strategic nuclear
assault is low:
The target of Russian nuclear blackmail appears to be the U.S. and NATO military
installations in Europe, not Ukraine. Some military analysts do include Ukraine to the
Russian target list, arguing that some articles, incorporated in Russian military doctrine
of 2010 and 2014 presuppose such an eventuality, as well as public statements of some
Russian politicians definitely indicate on such a probability, arguing in favor of
admissibility of a so called “nuclear strike of a deescalating nature” versus a non-nuclear
state. According to some features such statements fit well the context of the current
Russia-Ukraine war, but the author does not share this probability due to following
Russia has a meaningful advantage over Ukraine in Air Forces and Navy, which are
difficult to engage in the present war in Donbas due to political reasons: Russia turns
over its modern weapons to separatists under disguise of prize of war, grabbed from
Ukrainian military. But Ukraine does not possess many of military equipment of Air
Forces and Navy, so that serves as an obstacle to provide the separatists with such items.
But in case of aggravating the situation in the ATO zone Russia bill have a choice to
utilize either politically neutral conventional military equipment, or politically toxic non-
strategic nuclear weapons. There are strong reasons to believe, that the Kremlin will
choose conventional option, which is safer internationally and goes in line with military
superiority of Russian conventional military.
Another reason is purely ideological: Russian aggression in Donbas is waged under
within the framework of the “Russian world” concept, which envisions the “liberation of
Ukrainian Russian-speakers from the Kiev fascists”, basically avoiding direct military
confrontation with Ukraine, but resorting only to arms procurement and providing
Russian volunteers. The option of resorting to nuclear weapons definitely doesn`t fit to
this ‘liberation scenario’, aggravated by the fact that Ukraine is a non-nuclear state, thus
the weapons cannot be disguised as a Ukrainian prize of war in the possession of Donbas
separatists. The option in question might ruin the whole official concept of the real
nature of events in the Donbas, sales by the Kremlin domestically to the nation, which
might entail serious internal unrest and foreign policy problems.
New option for Ukraine: the state might take advantage of the imprudent Russian nuclear
blackmail behavior and walk away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
(INF) of 1987 in order to create conventional high precision medium range ballistic and
cruise missiles as a tool of deterrence to target Moscow, St.Petersbourg and other
industrial centers of the aggressor-state, menacing to cause an unacceptable damage in
case of resuming aggressive actions or to deliver a preemptive conventional strike. From
the political standpoint it will be much easier for Ukraine to argument this move contrary
to a doubtful pursuit of a nuclear status.
Joining the U.S. NMD European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) might turn to be
another option for Ukraine, keeping in mind the appropriate statement of Mr.Turchinov
on 20 May 2015. His statement does not clarify whether he meant ground-based
interceptors SM-3 IB, such an option was not previously discussed with the U.S.A., or he
meant utilization as a sea plate-form of the Ukrainian missile cruiser ‘Ukraine’, which
rusty remnants are still in the Nikolaev ship-yard (such an option was discussed 12 years
ago, though with zero outcome).
The issue of Ukraine joining EPAA has its history and turned to be a point in bilateral
Ukraine-U.S. discussions in 2001. Later the Presidents V.Youshchenko and
V.Yanukovich demonstrated inability to grasp the realistic perspectives of Ukraine`s
strategic security, they stuck to opposite approaches on the issue: in 2009 Youshchenko
confirmed that Ukraine was ready to join the project, in 2011 Yanukovich renounced
from this statement. It is worth keeping in mind, that the project besides sheer security
aspect provided Ukraine`s arm industry with opportunity to engage with U.S. contractors
thus changing its geopolitical posture: in 2003-2004 PA Yuzhmash and JSC "Khartron"
(Hartron) successfully accomplished a contract with Lockheed Martin Missile, (main
contractor of U.S. NMD), Boeing and Northrop Grumman. In 2006 Marvin McNamara,
second man in U.S. NMD visited Kiev, which resulted in several contracts, performed by
Ukroboronservice, the perspectives of further cooperation were lively discussed,
including the production of missiles to intercept Russian ICBMs Topol-M. While in war
with Russia, when the policy of maneuvering between two super states is detrimental,
Ukraine is due to choose its proper place in the architectures of European defense.
4. The Russian threat to use nuclear weapons against NATO states revealed the
Russian concern, that U.S.A. and NATO state might deliver Ukraine modern
means to wage conventional war, not only lethal, but non-lethal, in particular, the
fire-control systems, secure communications, logistic and tactical reconnaissance
Regrettably, since late 2014 this conclusion lost it`s relevance to a greater extend.
Accordingly Ukrainian military and political leadership should strive to extend the
military cooperation with Western partners in the mentioned areas, concentrating its
efforts on joint production in Ukraine rather than on purchase of the necessary items.
Non-lethal character of this cooperation should considerable mitigate politically the
reorientation process of our arms industry toward the West, as well as success stories in
defense area will serve as catalysts to promote cooperation in production of modern lethal
weapons for Ukrainian military.
5. Another reason for Kremlin leaders to resort to nuclear blackmail was a necessity
to gain the time enough to create modern high precision conventional weapons,
which is not curbed by international agreements. President Putin was precise while
publicly tasked the arms industry in 2014.
For Ukraine the conclusion is the following: Kremlin`s nuclear blackmail is a temporary
endeavor, a hollow threat keeping in mind, that nuclear warfare, even in a non-strategic
option, remains highly problematic if ever, when we look on domestic and international
implications. Application of modern conventional high precision weapon entails far less
risks and challenges, though it equals to nuclear in its destructive effect.
So, if Kremlin keeps being logical, his next move will not be a threat, but a conventional
high precision warfare with Ukraine at the top of its target list. Ukraine has a chance to
grab an opportunity and create a similar high precision weapon in the same time slot,
utilize the experience available in this area in our arms industry.
6. In a short-term perspective we may witness a shift of NATO non-strategic
nuclear weapons stockpiles closer to our boarders.
At the moment Poland and Baltic states reject the very idea to diminish the number of
U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe, and we may expect them to propose their territory for
additional stockpiling. Such a proposition is in breach with the 1997 Founding Act on
NATO-Russia Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, which was shattered by
Russian annexation of Crimea and aggression in the Eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Nevertheless on may reasonably expect the growing number of NATO non-nuclear
member states in Central and Eastern Europe to engage in NATO nuclear operations.
Besides, under the current circumstances it is doubtful to expect the appeals from the
European host-states of U.S. nuclear weapons to withdraw them from their territory
under any pretext.
It would be highly reasonable for the government of Ukraine to evade any discourses on
the possibility to host U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons on our soil as an element of
protection due to disproportional risks entailed by this option.
7. It is worth paying attention to the stance of the U.S.A. on the issue – it is
remarkably calm and based on the recognition of its strategic dominance in
economic capabilities to build up national defense.
The Russia-Ukraine war considerably shrunk the economic potential of Russian arms
industry to modernize the military. The long term character of the present West-Russia
confrontation will result in Russia`s strategic defeat due to the overwhelming advantage
of the West in resources. That fact shapes the main tasks for Ukrainian leadership:
- To deny Russia every possibility to utilize, even in indirect fashion, Ukrainian
arms industry to modernize Russian military.
- Ukraine should embark on a balanced and phased trade policy with Russia,
keeping in mind two objective:
o To avoid an imminent collapse of the Ukrainian economy due to
imprudent immediate disruption of economic cooperation,
o On the other side, to deny Russia every possibility to raise the money
enough to finance the prompt modernization of the Russian military,
which is building up to crash Ukraine.
o To utilize the Western technological resources with the aim to promptly
modernize national military forces and arms industry, viewing the latter
as a basis to maintain the military in a proper shape in a mid-time
8. The risks of Ukraine`s economic collapse and of immediate U.S.NATO –
Russia military confrontation will remain high.
Ukraine will remain for an appreciable length of time in the focus of U.S.-Russia
confrontation. That leads us to realistic supposition that Ukraine might fail to receive
U.S.E.U aid enough to stabilize itself internally, as well as the political class of Ukraine
might prove to be incapable to carry on the reform agenda vital for state`s survival, which
in its content will inevitably lead to displacement of the current deeply corrupted political
elite. That scenario might result in a loss of the state`s controllability, when official Kiev
and the West will focus their efforts on military of Russia and separatists in the Eastern
Ukraine, while Kremlin will strive to destabilize the whole Ukraine thus effectively
bringing the country under its dominant influence. So far, peaceful future of Ukraine is
loosely linked with the ability of the new government to succeed with reform agenda as
well as with managing the popular discontent caused by economic degradation and
decline of living standards, making sure that full scale Western support remains in place.
Economy will rest be a prominent domain of U.S.-Russia confrontation: Russia already
suffers from economic sanctions linked to Crimea annexation and military aggression in
Eastern Ukraine. It is high time for Ukraine to join Western efforts to keep the price for
these misdoings high, commencing with gradually curbing economic cooperation with
Though economic problems accumulate, Kremlin is not apt to provide a necessary reform
agenda, as far as these reforms might inevitably ruin domestic political and economic
form of stability and undermine the stability of the current political regime. It is more
reasonable to expect a short-term efforts to fix immediate looming problems in hope, that
the crisis will be settled on a self-regulated basis, Western sanctions will be mitigated and
finally lifted all by themselves, that China will provide Russia with tangible economic
support due to sense of solidarity, that world oil prices will go automatically up and the
international attitude to Russia will ameliorate as a natural outcome.
9. The success story in the domain of the state modernization efforts is a recipe to
stabilize Ukraine, it is a guide-book to reestablish the country within the borders
of early 2014.
Russian tactics concerning Ukraine will be variable, but its strategic goal will remain the
same- to turn Ukraine into a buffer-state in-between Russian Federation and NATOEU.
But this strategy has risks: the majority of Ukrainians might reject the status of neutrality
or non-bloc status of their country. Further internal conflicts in Ukraine will inevitably
trigger confrontation between Russia and the U.S.A.
Ukraine cannot be integrated into the Western civilization in the domain of foreign policy
only, domestic transformation is a must. What we need is that the national political elite
change its values, as well as the quality of the authority, of the philosophy of governance
- it is to establish a country for grandsons instead of hiding stolen budget money in
Western banking system.
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