Russia's tactical nuclear weapons inspire silent terror in NATO

5:45, 14 июня 2021

МОСКВА, 13 июня 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.

The American magazine The National Interest analysed the arsenal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons and their significance for the defence of Russia. The article is titled “Why Russia’s 3,000 (Or More) Tactical Nuclear Weapons Should Terrify NATO”.

In the course of its analysis of Russia’s tactical nuclear potential, the journal concludes: “Russian military doctrine sees tactical nuclear warheads as a hedge against NATO–not only a deterrent but one of Russias only means of levelling the playing field in the mutually undesired event of an all-out war”.

Indeed, Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons negate NATO’s superiority in conventional armed forces. And given the disparate economic potential with the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, it makes no sense for Russia, and it is unrealistic to establish such parity.

The same argument is made by The National Interest magazine: “Tactical nuclear warheads are, and will likely continue to be, a cost-efficient way for Moscow to offset its disadvantage in this domain.”

At the moment, there is no definition of which nuclear weapons belong to tactical (non-strategic nuclear weapons). The line between tactical and strategic weapons is very conditional and can change depending on the conditions of use.

The National Interest magazine believes that non-strategic nuclear weapons should include systems with a range of less than 5,500 kilometres. Next, the publication lists some of the most famous Russian means of launching tactical nuclear warheads.

The article mentions the “Kalibr” sea-based cruise missile, the “Kinzhal” air-launched hypersonic missile system, and the “Iskander-M” land-based missile system.

Here are some characteristics of these weapons systems. The range of destruction of ground targets of the “Kalibr” missile reaches 2600 kilometres, and the “Kalibr-M” missile-up to 4500 kilometres. The power of a thermonuclear warhead is 50 kilotons in TNT equivalent. “Kalibr” is deployed on surface ships and submarines.

The carriers of the Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” hypersonic missile system are MiG-31K interceptor fighters, and in the future – Tu-22M3M long-range bombers. When used with the MiG-31K, the range of “Kinzhal” is 2,000 kilometres. Taking into account the fact that “Kinzhal” is an aviation version of the “Iskander” complex, the power of the nuclear warhead of its hypersonic missile is about 50 kilotons.

The “Iskander-M” ground-based missile system has a range of up to 500 kilometres with an aero-ballistic missile, and the power of its nuclear warhead is also 50 kilotons.

Now it is not surprising that these systems, with their high performance in terms of power and range, inspire terror in Russia’s likely opponents in the face of the NATO bloc.

The National Interest writes that Russia has between 3,000 and 6,000 tactical nuclear warheads. However, it does not cite the sources of these figures. According to other, more real, information, Russia has at least 2000 nuclear warheads, and the United States – at least 500.

Attempts to deprive Russia of the advantage in the form of a significant arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons do not stop. This issue has been repeatedly brought up by Washington for negotiations on strategic stability, and the current US administration also has such intentions. But the desire of the Americans to apply the principle of equal ceilings on tactical nuclear warheads, or as they put it, “control all Russian nuclear weapons” to our country is unacceptable. And there are several important reasons for this.

The first of them is the different geopolitical position of Russia and the United States. The United States has a land border only with Canada and Mexico, whose military potential is not even close to that of the United States. Both Canada and Mexico are nuclear–free states. The United States is separated from other potential adversaries by seas and oceans. The US has a maritime border only with Russia.

Russia borders 18 states. Six of them (Belarus, Georgia, China, Latvia, Mongolia and South Ossetia) do not have a sea border with the Russian Federation, and two states (the United States and Japan) do not have a land border. For our country, tactical nuclear weapons are the most important means of regional deterrence and play an essential role in ensuring national security.

As mentioned above, NATO countries are superior to Russia in terms of conventional armed forces. It is impossible for our country to achieve parity with them in this indicator because of the disparate economic opportunities. And there is even no point in striving for this, since Moscow has a much cheaper and more effective solution in the form of the availability of tactical nuclear weapons and modern means of launching them.

In addition, the entire Russian arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons is located on the territory of Russia. It poses a threat to NATO countries only in the event of armed aggression against our country. It should be noted that Washington, in turn, deployed part of its tactical nuclear weapons arsenal in the form of 200 free-fall nuclear bombs outside the United States, on the territories of its NATO allies.

It is obvious that the military-political leadership of Russia will never give up its “tactical nuclear trump card”, no matter how hard they try in the West. No one will allow our likely adversaries to gain a unilateral advantage and achieve military superiority over Russia.

Therefore, in the words of an article in The National Interest magazine, Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons will continue to terrify NATO and deter the bloc’s potential aggression against our country.

Институт международных политических и экономических стратегий Русстрат