Its Army Useless, Russia must rely on Nukes

Exposing yet another of U.S. President Barack Obama’s absurd propagandistic lies, Stephen G. Rademaker, who served as U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control from 2002 to 2006, writing in the Moscow Times shows how Russia will never, ever seriously cut its tactical nuclear arsenal because its conventional forces are too much of a pathetic joke to be taken seriously:

A recurring theme in the U.S. Senate’s hearings on the New START treaty has been the disappointment expressed by many senators over the treaty’s failure to limit Russia’s tactical nuclear warheads. Supporters of New START respond that the treaty’s exclusive focus on strategic nuclear warheads follows the pattern of all previous U.S.-Russian arms control agreements. But the critics are rightly concerned that the number of strategic warheads has fallen so low that the United States can no longer ignore Russia’s overwhelming advantage in tactical warheads.

Strategic nuclear weapons are intended to win wars by targeting major cities, military bases and other “strategic” targets. Tactical weapons, by contrast, are designed for use on the battlefield. In practical terms, strategic nuclear weapons target the Russian and U.S. heartlands, while tactical nuclear weapons were designed for use in combat in Central Europe.

During the Cold War, the United States and Russia deployed large numbers of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. But U.S.-Russian arms control had always focused on strategic weapons on the theory that tactical weapons were irrelevant to keeping the nuclear peace as long as both sides deployed vastly larger numbers of strategic weapons. Events on the battlefield were thought to be of little consequence if Washington and Moscow were at risk of destruction by strategic weapons.

But what was true at the height of the Cold War when both sides possessed tens of thousands of strategic nuclear warheads has become increasingly less true as both sides have reduced their strategic forces. During the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the agreed ceiling on deployed strategic weapons was reduced from 6,000 to 2,200 on each side. The New START drops the ceiling even further to 1,550.

Regrettably, these deep reductions in strategic weapons have not been matched by Russian reductions in tactical weapons. By most estimates, the United States today deploys just between 200 and 300 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, compared to Russia’s arsenal of between 2,000 and 3,000.

The Obama administration has argued to the Senate that Russia’s 10:1 advantage in tactical weapons is militarily insignificant today and will remain insignificant even if U.S. strategic forces are cut to roughly half the size of Russia’s tactical forces as required by New START. But obviously there comes a point at which strategic nuclear reductions will be so deep — and Russia’s advantage in tactical weapons so large — that the disparity can no longer be ignored.

Incredibly, the arms control community, and even some U.S. allies in Europe, believe that the solution to this problem is to unilaterally withdraw the remaining U.S. tactical warheads from Europe, assuming incorrectly that Russia would, in turn, remove its warheads (at least those that are located in the European part of the country). The Obama administration has not embraced this solution, but it hasn’t rejected it either, promising instead to intensify consultations within NATO on the issue and calling on Russia to negotiate reductions in tactical weapons.

Indeed, persuading Russia simply to talk about tactical weapons would be a significant achievement. The Bush administration tried repeatedly to initiate such a discussion, but Russia always demurred, insisting there was nothing to talk about until the United States withdrew all its tactical weapons from Europe, while Russia kept its weapons in that theater. Russia has become no more flexible on this issue following the advent of the Obama administration. When asked by the Senate why New START addresses only strategic weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted “they were not willing to negotiate on tactical nukes.”

This inflexibility reflects a troubling reality. Russia emphatically has not embraced Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. To the contrary, as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates candidly told the Senate, “Everything we see indicates they’re increasing the importance and the role of their nuclear weapons in the defense of Russia.” Russian officials explain that the country’s conventional capabilities are much degraded since the demise of the Soviet Union, while threats to Russia’s security have increased.

These perceived threats include not just China to the East and unstable Islamic regions to the South, but also NATO to the West. In truth, NATO has served to stabilize Russia’s Western periphery rather than threaten it, but bitterness over the loss of so much of its former empire to NATO prevents Moscow from recognizing this reality.

In an environment where the threats perceived by Russia outstrip its ability to defend itself by conventional means, Russian officials see tactical nuclear weapons as the great equalizer. The United States has little to offer to persuade the Kremlin to reduce its 10:1 advantage, much less abolish these weapons entirely.

Washington would have even less to offer if the Obama administration unilaterally withdrew the remaining U.S. tactical weapons from Europe. Proponents of this idea misunderstand the nature of the problem. In reality, Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons to counter an imagined conventional threat from NATO.

For these reasons, New START is likely to be the last arms control agreement signed with Russia for a long time to come. Another traditional strategic arms control agreement is out of the question. Any future agreement will have to limit tactical weapons as well, but Russia appears determined to keep its tactical nuclear trump card so long as it perceives NATO as a threat. Changing that perception will take a lot more than reset buttons and unilateral U.S. concessions.

37 responses to “Its Army Useless, Russia must rely on Nukes

  1. In which case I hope Russian leaders wount be so dumb as to let the Americans have their rule over the world, and that way preserve the strategic balance with its nuclear arsenal. We all know how the USA and her foreign policy is a saint, they have used the nuclear weapon twice in military retaliation, Russia has never done it once.

    • Actually not only Russia, but none but the US ever did.

    • yeah biggest mistake of WWII was nuclear bombing of Japan :( should have dropped both on Moscow to erase that evil city forever.

      • А вот хуй тебе в жопу. Дырку ты от бублика получишь а не Москву. Learn from September 11.

      • Didn’t you learn anything from Bin Laden freedom fighters lesson?


        Please do not post under different names, it is dishonest, a violation of our comment rules, and will not be tolerated. Do it again and you’re banned.

        • Please, don’t delete uncomfortable to you comments related to discussion.

          @Do it again and you’re banned.

          Are you able to ban somebody? I guess you are to bad with computers.

  2. Why should the US have the right to decide whenever nuclear weapons are safe or when the idea of a nuclear weapon “too old-fashionate and unsafe for us”. So when they were droppen on Hirosima and Nagasaki I assume it was a safe type of warfare and now, when the budget of the US army is bigger than that of the rest of the world combined, using nuclear weapons shall be illegal, because the US always want the advantage, which they will have in a conventional warfare. I tell you what, keep your police rules within your borders, and don’t tell what others should do or when to abide you, go and sort out Iran and Israel.

  3. Well, considering Russia was committing genocide in Koenigsberg, the Kurile islands etc at the same time….

    Really Konstantin, I suggest you grow up a little.

    The Russians have used nuclear weapons, just that they were testing them on their own imperial subjects in Kazakhstan.

    • When it comes to killing 26 million that’s clearing the Earth from the Soviet burden and when it comes to a few thousands in Koenigsberg it’s a bloody genocide, bloody genocide! On the Kurile islands bloody genocide!, it’s not a genocide unless you bloody murder millions like Japan did in Manchuria, or Germany did in USSR. I thought it was bad enough there were attempts to distort history in Russia, but I didn’t expect you guys still have your heads inside your asses out of ignorance.

    • Oh yes, what do you say about Dresden? No one has attacked mainland USA, Russia was being torn apart, and you think you as a civilized member have the right to remark about little Russian “genocides”. Cool, what about the genocide in Vietnam.

      • What, you mean the genocide perpetrated by Russian sponsored North Vietnamese communist aggression against the people of South Vietnam?

        Yes Konstantin, another in the long line of evil actions by Russians.

        As for Dresden, well to be honest, you Russians did ask for it to be added to the list of targets.

        Also, the death toll in Dresden was far lower than Nazi propaganda of WW2 and Communist propaganda of the cold war period would have us believe.

        Dresden bombing death toll lower than thought
        The death toll from the Allied bombing of Dresden in the Second World War was much lower than previously thought, according to new research by a German government commission.

        For decades historians have accused the Allies of killing up to 500,000 civilians on the night of February 13 1945, when British and American planes destroyed the old city centre.
        But a special commission, comprising 13 prominent German historians, has now revealed that the previous figures were exaggerated or derived from dubious sources.

        Instead, they concluded that no more than 25,000 people died during the attacks, debunking the claims of many revisionist historians who wished to compare the bombing to the Holocaust.
        The commission, assembled in 2004 and headed by one the country’s most prominent military historians, Rolf-Dieter Mueller, studied all the available evidence about the event – much of which was examined for the first time.
        Mr Mueller said that the final report of the commission, to be published next year, aims to end the “ludicrous speculation” about the Dresden causalities, which was used for propaganda by the Nazis.
        “In the course of its research the commission has so far identified around 18,000 victims of the air raids in Dresden,” Mr Mueller said. “The commission estimates that a maximum of 25,000 people lost their lives in the February attacks.”
        Unofficially, commission members indicated that they did not expect the final death toll to exceed 20,000.
        Immediately after the bombing, the wartime authorities of Dresden estimated the number of casualties to be up to 25,000, but Nazi propaganda chiefs circulated much higher figures.

        Try again idiot. You really are pathetic.

        • Better bomb Dresden before they (fascists) incinerate your parents and children. Patheic I am afraid is you, you lack any thought of strategy, you think it’s possible to be innocent in a war. Dresden was your business, and I hope more people would have died (factory workers, soldiers, not innocent moms and their children). Otherwise why would the US bomb Hirosima and Nagasaki while Japan was almost defeated anyway. The moral of the story is, the Western allies wanted to avoid deaths at all costs, even if that included such attrocious acts.

        • And it was the Soviet Union, not Russia. Personally I am proud we won the war, it was the greatest act of evil carried out in the history of mankind. I suggest you educate yourself, go online, search up stories of Jewish and Soviet genocides. You could go to prison for publicly denying it in Germany. Germans have made a long way since the war, they are much more environmentally caring, where is you smurf, I don’t know where you appeared from, one of American neo-fascits?

          • I suggest you look up mass murder by the Russian state.

            Evil as the Nazi’s were, the Communists led by Russia were just as bad if not worse.

            Communism killed over 140,000,000 people last century.

            And Russia led the way.

            • Communism killed over 140,000,000 people last century.

              That’s communism, not Russia, it is nowhere ethic to compare communism to fascism, as one was used as a means of internal control by a paranoid dictator inside Russia and the other was used to destroy whole ethnicities. I hope you are educated enought to distinguish the order of the regimes I have described above, if you are not I am sorry for you, you would make a terrible student.

            • And don’t take me too literally, communism was used abroad too by Russia, but it was uncomparable to the crimes of the fascist led Germany. And according to your criteria Germans should be blamed, not Russia, Karl Marx was a German.

            • And Stalin was Georgian, what a great shame.

              • Actually, stalin was born in the Russian empire, to an Ossetian father, and a Georgian-Russian mother.

                He is after all the “3rd Greatest Russian of All Time” by popular acclaim in Russia.

                And, approved of by a majority of Russians.

        • Read this to get the feeling of what the times used to be like:

          Nazi executioner strolls in park

    • If not mainly for the Russians, Ukrainians and Belorusians, your Georgian arses would not be posting comments on this website. Georgia would only mean one thing in the world – a US state. Lol at you.

  4. Well done andrew, and where did the US test their weapons? do you even know? they tested it them in their own state of Alaska so don’t even talk about kazahstan. Secondly, the whole world is worried about Russia with its nuclear arsenal and how it won’t reduce it, many forget that it was only the US that ever actually used nuclear weapons against another state, because, dear russophobe, their army was too pathetic to beat the Japanese in fair out combat, so take that little statement and stick it in you ass along with the rest of your publications

    • I have always pondered over the US atomic attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

      Like you wrote, the US was too pathetic to beat the Japanese in fair combat, like real men.

      Do you consider it then, that the atomic bombings were acts of cowardice?

      • Hmmm, the US army won countless battles against the Japanese in WW2, from New Guinea to the Philippines, Peleliu, Tarawa, Saipan, Okinawa etc, etc.

        In addition, the US never had millions of soldiers surrender, unlike the mass surrenders of Russian troops in 1941 & 1942, where around 4,000,000 Russians surrendered.

        Russian cowards had to be saved by Georgians, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Chechens, and other ethnic minorities.-

        • Ahh no they didn’t they stood to the last by Stalin’s order: not a step back. They were only given the right to retreat when they ran out of armor and encirclement was inevitable, but they fought to the last in an unfair battle. The shortages of weaponory and skilled generals, who were murdered by mass repressions of Stalin added to this. Let’s not zig-zag the history.

          amongst all fighting nations, Russians suffered the most casualties and could still fight for their freedom, German generals wrote many different stories of the bravery of ordinary Russian soldier in their logs.

          One of the Russian soldiers was a teenager, who saw a sudden German machine gun fire at the top of a hill, to protect his comrades from behind, since he was the closest, ran towards the enemy to cover the machinegun fire, saving lifes of his comrades by momentarily making it impossible for the enemy to aim.

          • Really?

            I guess they don’t teach about the mass surrenders by Russian troops in 1941 and early 1942 in Russia.

            No surprises there…..

            How do you think the Germans captured 3,300,000 Russian soldiers in 1941?

            Shortages of weaponry? Only after mass surrenders old chap.

            Unfair battle? The initial phase of Barbarossa saw 3.9 million Axis troops deployed against an initial 3.2 million Russian troops, while the Russians later threw in an additional 5 million men.

            The Axis had 3,600 tanks, the Russians between 12,000 and 15,000 tanks.

            The Axis had 4,389 aircraft, the Russians had 35-40,000 aircraft (11,357 combat ready on 22 June 1941).

            So my poorly informed Russian friend, given that many of the pieces of equipment used by the Soviet (Russian) troops were actually quite superior to the equipment used by the Germans, including but not limited to the T-34, KV-1, SVT-40 semi auto battle rifle, 76.2mm HV anti tank gun, Katushya’s etc, etc, etc, methinks you are badly informed.

            As for the “lack of good generals” well, you still had Zhukov, Rossokovski, and many others who later made a name for themselves.

            Prior to the war, the Russian propaganda was changed due to the absolutely humiliating defeats suffered by it’s army in 1941:

            Despite the Axis failure to achieve Barbarossa’s initial goals, the huge Soviet losses caused a shift in Soviet propaganda. Before the onset of hostilities against Germany, the Soviet government had said its army was very strong. But, by autumn 1941, the Soviet line was that the Red Army had been weak, that there had not been enough time to prepare for war, and that the German attack had come as a surprise.

            So from one set of lies to another, typical Russian BS.


        • You lack a strategic sence of orientation. If we all recall US stands in one of the most geographically safe regions, surrounded by oceans and Americans have taken this for granted.

          Russian has historically for a while had one of the most vulnerable and long stretched borders.

          • And that gives you the right to invade other countries, kill millions of people, commit massive genocides against ethnic minorities?

            Really Vector, you are pathetic.

  5. This blog is really cool, even I was getting tired of hearing all the cynicism about Russia, don’t get me wrong, I do kind of despise Putin and his style of “hard democracy” filled with terror here or there, but believe me my friend, things are not so bad overall. But I believe it is a bit ignorant to blame one country for all the bad outcomes in the world. You see me, it’s a bit like blaming your chess opponent when you wish to move your piece, but it the opponent obstracts you, enraging you from inside and forcing you to make another move, politics is a Game.

  6. That is an incorrect analogy Konstantin.

    Putin thinks it’s checkers and can’t work out why he keeps losing!

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