Russian nuclear forces, 2019

By Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda | March 4, 2019

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

Russia is in the middle of a decades-long modernization of its strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces to replace Soviet-era weapons with newer systems. These modernizations, combined with an increase in the number and size of military exercises and occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, contribute to uncertainty about Russia’s long-term intentions and growing international debate about the nature of its nuclear strategy. These concerns, in turn, stimulate increased defense spending, nuclear modernization programs, and political opposition to further nuclear weapons reductions in Western Europe and the United States.

As of early 2019, we estimate that Russia has a stockpile of roughly 4,490 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1,600 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases, while another 1,070 strategic warheads are in storage along with about 1,820 non-strategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – perhaps almost 2,000 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement, for a total inventory of more than 6,490 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 Matt Korda, a research associate with the project. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.


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