Russian views of US nuclear modernization

By Dmitri Trenin, January 2, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with US President Donald Trump. Credit: www.kremlin.ru CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with US President Donald Trump. Credit: www.kremlin.ru CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Russian political and military leaders have always been keen observers of US nuclear policy. The current US nuclear modernization program signals to Moscow that the role of nuclear weapons in US national security strategy is on the rise. The Kremlin regards Russia’s nuclear deterrent as the main security guarantee vis-à-vis the United States. Even as the United States is embarking on a new modernization cycle, Russia is about to complete its own. Moscow’s prime concern is strategic stability in the new environment of a hybrid war – a medley of conflicts in which Russia refuses to play by US post-Cold War rules. Against a backdrop of deep mistrust, the coming US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the new US emphasis on tactical systems revive the specter of a nuclear war in Europe. Even though the two militaries stay in touch on a 24/7 basis, there is a clear need to resume a US-Russian strategic-stability dialogue, to avoid fateful miscalculation.

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