Russian Reactions To The New U.S. Nuclear Posture Review
On February 2, 2018, the U.S Department of Defense released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).  The major criticism leveled by pro-government officials and opinion leaders at the NPR is that the document is “anti-Russian.” The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is primarily concerned by what it described as “Washington’s no-limits approach” of nuclear weapons. “[The U.S.] might use nuclear weapons in ‘extreme circumstances,’ which are not limited to military scenarios in the new U.S. doctrine. Moreover, even military scenarios are presented so ambiguously that it seems like the U.S. planners may view practically any use of military capability as a reason for delivering a nuclear strike against anyone they consider an ‘aggressor’.”
Below are some reactions to the new U.S. National Posture Review:
Russia’s MFA: ‘We Will Have To Take Into Account The New U.S. Plans And To Take Measures To Enhance Our Security’
The following is the official reaction of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review:
“We are deeply disappointed with the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, which was made public on February 2. The first impression is: the document is focused on confrontation and is anti-Russian. It is regrettable that the United States justifies its policy of massive nuclear build-up with references to Russia’s policy of nuclear modernization and the allegedly increased reliance on nuclear weapons in Russia’s doctrines. We have been accused of lowering the threshold for the first use of nuclear weapons and aggressive strategies.
“None of this has any connection with reality. Russia’s Military Doctrine clearly limits the possibility of using nuclear weapons to two hypothetical defensive scenarios: first, in response to an aggression against Russia and/or its allies involving the use of nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction, and second, in response to a non-nuclear aggression, but only if Russia’s survival is endangered. The 2014 Military Doctrine introduced a new term, the ‘system of non-nuclear deterrence,’ which implies preventing aggression primarily through reliance on conventional (non-nuclear) forces.
“Therefore, readiness to use nuclear weapons to prevent Russia from using its nuclear arsenal, expressed in the new Nuclear Posture Review, amounts to putting in question our right to defend ourselves against an aggression that threatens the country’s survival. We would like to hope that Washington is aware of the high level of danger when such doctrinal provisions move to the level of practical military planning.
“We are deeply concerned about Washington’s no-limits approach, under which it might use nuclear weapons in ‘extreme circumstances,’ which are not limited to military scenarios in the new U.S. doctrine. Moreover, even military scenarios are presented so ambiguously that it seems like the U.S. planners may view practically any use of military capability as a reason for delivering a nuclear strike against anyone they consider an ‘aggressor.’ If this is not the doctrinal enhancement of the role of nuclear weapons, what then does Washington imply when it uses the term with regard to Russia?
“In addition to this, the new Nuclear Posture Review sets out sweeping nuclear modernization plans. Of special concern are the U.S. plans to modify existing SLCMs [submarine-launched cruise missiles] to ‘provide a low-yield option’ and also to create a low-yield warhead for the Trident II SLBMs [submarine-launched ballistic missiles]. Nuclear weapons with such options are clearly designed as battlefield weapons. This will greatly increase the temptation of using them, especially considering the right to a disarming first strike as set out in the new U.S. doctrine. Assurances that the implementation of these plans will not lower the nuclear threshold can at least be interpreted as a desire to delude the international community. It is even more frightening that the U.S. military and other national security professionals firmly believe in their ability to model conflict scenarios that involve low-yield nuclear opinions. Quite to the contrary, we believe that this dramatic lowering of the threshold conditions can provoke a nuclear missile war even in a low-intensity conflict.
“Of course, we will have to take into account the new U.S. plans and to take measures to enhance our security.
The U.S. nuclear doctrine abounds in anti-Russian clichés, from allegations of ‘aggressive behavior’ and interference to ungrounded accusations of alleged violations of a long list of arms control treaties. Washington has been lately producing an uninterrupted stream of such hackneyed allegations. We see this as a malevolent attempt to blame others for the deteriorating international and regional security situation and the unbalancing of arms control mechanisms due to a series of irresponsible U.S. actions.
“Russia honors its obligations under all international treaties. We strictly comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) and the Open Skies Treaty. We have never violated the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence and security-building measures or the Budapest Memorandum. We have laid bare the slanderous allegations regarding this more than once. As for the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Russia cannot be accused of violating it because it suspended its participation in the treaty back in 2007. We did this because the treaty, which was drafted in the era of confrontation of two military-political blocs – the Warsaw Treaty Organization and NATO, no longer served the new realities. One of these two blocs has long been dissolved, while the other continues to build up its capability as well as expanding its deployment area. These new realities were formalized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which the U.S.-led NATO countries refused to ratify, unlike Russia.
“Likewise, it is untrue what the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review says about Russia’s alleged refusal to implement the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) of 1991-1992, which concern the two countries’ political commitments to withdraw and reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons (tactical nuclear weapons, or TNWs). Acting in keeping with the PNIs, Russia has reduced the greater part (75 per cent) of its TNWs and has removed the rest from their delivery vehicles for storage at the central storage facilities in the national territory. It was an unprecedented reduction of the operational status of nuclear weapons and a major review of their place and role in the national military doctrine. Although the PNIs are not a legally binding international agreement, they continue to be relevant to us up to this day.
“It is notable that the United States still has TNWs in Europe and is even modernizing and deploying them in direct proximity to Russian borders. Moreover, NATO maintains the practice of nuclear sharing, or joint nuclear missions, when non-nuclear European bloc members are involved in planning for the use of U.S. nuclear weapons and in training in their use, which is a gross violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“Another example of fact-juggling is the claim that Russia has refused to continue to reduce its nuclear weapons. We repeatedly confirmed our commitment to our obligations under Article VI of the NPT. We expressed our readiness more than once to discuss any questions related to the strengthening of international security. We pointed out, including to our American partners, that the conditions for the continuation of nuclear disarmament can be created through the settlement of key strategic security problems, such as the unilateral and unlimited deployment of U.S. BMD systems, the Prompt Global Strike (PGS) concept, as well as the US refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) or to pledge not to deploy weapons in space.
“It is also obvious that disarmament efforts should involve all nuclear-capable states, primarily the UK and France as Washington’s nuclear weapons allies. The latter is especially important considering the intention, which has been proclaimed in the Nuclear Posture Review, to use NATO’s overall deterrence and defense posture, including its nuclear forces, against Russia. We point out that our American partners have not mentioned their obligations under Article VI of the NPT in this review.
“In light of the above, the claim that the United States ‘seeks stable relations’ and looks forward to resuming ‘constructive engagement’ in order to manage nuclear risks sounds utterly hypocritical.
“Russia is indeed ready for such engagement. We urge the United States to join forces with Russia in order to find solutions to the growing number of problems in the area of strategic stability.”
(Mid.ru, February 3, 2018)
MP Slutsky: The New Doctrine Is Very Dangerous From The Point Of View Of Violating Nuclear Deterrence Principles
The chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky said:
“In actual fact, the new doctrine is very dangerous from the point of view of violating nuclear deterrence principles. According to experts, the promulgated provisions that allow the use of nuclear weapons as a means of fighting the enemy rather than a means of mass destruction can provoke a spiral in the arms race in the world… The U.S. strategy to develop compact nuclear warheads, which are easy to use, reduces the obstacles for their use and, thereby, increases the threat of a nuclear war, including in the presence of such a factor as North Korea… The statements that the doctrine currently gives an opportunity to American diplomats to speak from a position of strength are also very provocative leading only to the exacerbation of confrontation. On the contrary, we need to continue the dialogue, constructive and equitable dialogue to raise relations between the two biggest nuclear powers from the historical low.”
(Tass.com, February 4, 2018)
Leonid Slutsky (Source: Vm.ru)
Senator Klintsevich: ‘The World Remembers Hiroshima And Nagasaki. The U.S. Nuclear Doctrine Does Not Render Taboo A Repetition Of Anything Similar’
Russian Senator Frantz Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security, stated:
“The U.S. new nuclear doctrine builds up greatly the confrontational component of the U.S. foreign policies, focusing not on cooperation with Russia in this sphere of weapons, but on competition with it. It is not for the first time in history, that the U.S. makes a very dangerous bet on breaking up the world strategic balance of forces in its favor… Clearly, the U.S. new nuclear strategy is a reaction to the changing global situation, which undermines the very domination of one country… The world remembers Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The U.S. nuclear doctrine does not render taboo a repetition of anything similar, and this causes most concerns. Clearly, it is senseless to speak now about any details of Russia’s response to the American doctrine. However, we see nothing new.”
(Tass.com, February 3, 2018)
Russian Ambassador To The U.S. Antonov: ‘It Is Not Worth Talking Down To Us’
Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov stated:
“This document, published today [February 2, 2018] in Washington, requires careful study and analysis, and I expect that in the very near future there will be meetings between Russian and American experts, where our colleagues from Washington will give explanations on many lines in this document which remain unclear…
“First, the Russian Federation is shown in a negative light again. Russia, China, the DPRK and Iran are among the threats to the United States. I am only focusing on Russia – what is said about Russia? It is said that Russia can launch a nuclear strike, that Russia does not comply with international treaties – they mention among others the Treaty on short-and intermediate-range missiles, […] of course, they mention issues of tactical nuclear weapons.”
(Tass.com, February 3, 2018)
Antonov also remarked: “A conclusion is made that thanks to this ‘brilliant’ doctrine the U.S. diplomats can today speak to their colleagues in the world from a position of strength. Of course, as a Russian diplomat I want to say that it’s hardly worth talking to us from a position of strength. It is not worth talking down to us either. And definitely they should not specify to us what to do and how to do it”.
(Ria.ru, February 3, 2018)
Anatoly Antonov (Eurasian-defence.ru)
Lieut. General (Ret.) Buzhinsky: ‘This Is An Internal U.S. Political Document’
Lieut. General (ret.) Evgeny Buzhinsky, former head of international negotiations department of Russia’s MOD took a less alarmist view. He doubts that the U.S. doctrine implies that Washington is initiating a new arms race. “This is strictly an internal U.S. political document. It’s about a vast amount of money. They need to modernize [their arsenal]. The cost of this modernization [is estimated at] 1.3 trillion dollars in the next 30 years”, said Buzhinsky. He added that the doctrine should not be interpreted as if “they declare war on Russia or an arms race”. Buzhinsky clarified: “An arms race is a two sided process.. We have our own nuclear modernization program and they have their own. In any case the [nuclear] parity will be preserved”.
(Ria.ru, February 3, 2018)
Russian Expert Garbuzov: The New Doctrine Implies The Use Of Nuclear Weapons For Surgical Usage Against An Enemy
Director of the Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Valery Garbuzov, said that the doctrine is dangerous mainly because it expresses the intention to develop low scale nuclear warheads. Garbuzov said: “Why is this doctrine so dangerous? Because it permits the use of the nuclear weapons not as a means of mass destruction, but rather as a targeted means of struggle against an enemy. This is dangerous because here lurks the trapdoor for various [militant] groups to use low-yield mini-nukes. Every weapon has its ‘spill-over’ property, and this is particularly dangerous in the case of chemical and nuclear weapons. That’s why the mere [publication] of the doctrine is a provocative factor. Russia and other countries will also have to introduce modifications in their own doctrines.”
(Ria.ru, February 3, 2018)
Senator Kosachev: It Is An Attempt To Justify The Growing U.S. Aggression
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs, condemned the new doctrine as an American attempt to justify its growing aggression:
“I see it as an attempt to justify the growing U.S. aggression through non-identified threats coming from different directions and its intention to invest seriously in [nuclear arsenal] modernization. Now, the options for the use of nuclear weapons have become greater (this includes non-identified ‘special circumstances’, not necessarily of a military nature). The clearly rising role of tactical weapons makes the non-peaceful use of the atom more likely. Despite the copious rhetoric regarding defense and containment – there is no doubt that this doctrine is actively aggressive, belligerent and not designed for a dialogue on the nuclear issue. This is definitely not encouraging”.
(Ria.ru, February 3, 2018)
Konstantin Kosachev (Source: Regnum.ru)
Senator Morozov: The Nuclear Doctrine Promotes The Start Of A New Arms Race
Senator Oleg Morozov, a member of the Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs, said: “This is a declaration of a new spiral of the arms race, less quantitative but more qualitative, using the most modern technologies. It’s not necessary to have more [nuclear] carriers or warheads for ‘muscle building’. According to the senator, The U.S. is trying to restore to itself world domination when in fact the U.S. is losing its former global status and “this is the source of such nervousness.”
(Ria.ru, February 3, 2018)
Senator Bondarev: US Nuclear Doctrine Demonstrates The True Identity Of The Global Aggressor
Senator Viktor Bondarev, former RUAF commander in chief and chairman of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, stated:
“Of course, the U.S. won’t go anywhere near an open conflict with two leading world powers [Russia and China]. But it can’t be ruled out that the U.S. will continue its expansion to the territories of small ‘raw materials’ nations [countries that produce mainly oil and gas] in order to make a profit in the weapons market, to control oil prices and utilize the human capital for its own interest. The U.S. nuclear doctrine demonstrates full well the identity of the true aggressor on a global scale “.
(Ria.ru, February 2, 2018)
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch N. 7325, Russian Expert Suslov: The New U.S Nuclear Doctrine Could Lead To A Military Crisis Fraught With A Direct Military Clash Between The U.S. And Russia, February 11, 2018.
 Mid.ru, February 3, 2018