Russian nuclear forces, 2017

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris | March 4, 2017

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces. While much of this process is simply a continuation of well-known programs that have been underway for many years, some developments are new. These modernizations, combined with an increase in the number and size of military exercises and occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, contribute to growing concern abroad about Russian intentions. These concerns, in turn, drive increased defense spending, nuclear modernization programs, and political opposition to reductions in Western Europe and the United States.

As of early 2017, we estimate that Russia has a stockpile of roughly 4,300 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1,950 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases, while another 500 strategic warheads are in storage along with about 1,850 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – perhaps almost 2,700 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement, for a total inventory of around 7,000 warheads…

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The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.


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