Nuclear war in Ukraine

Second Nuclear Age, Atomic Firewall and Offensive Deterrence

Russian Tu-160 bomber. Source - Russia Beyond.
Russian Tu-160 bomber. Source - Russia Beyond.

The war in Ukraine seems to be heading, step by step and inexorably, towards a first use of nuclear weapons. Something unheard of since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This is the consequence of the years-long move towards a Second Nuclear Age and the normalisation of the concept of Offensive Deterrence, which Russia has been putting into practice since the early stages of the conflict to modulate the degree of Western involvement. If Russia, faced with the threat of complete military defeat and the loss of conquered territories, finally resorts to atomic weapons it will have done nothing more than confirm some of the theories explained in this article.

At the height of the Cold War, Herman Kahn, one of the most prominent nuclear strategists, said in 1984 in his famous book ‘Thinking the Unthinkable in the 1980s’ that “there is a very large and delimited ‘firewall’ between conventional and nuclear warfare”. This means that there is a boundary between atomic and conventional weapons. Crossing the nuclear threshold would change the nature of the war, which would rapidly escalate to total mutual destruction.

However, this famous assertion, true in the strategic environment of the Cold War, does not fit with the kind of assumptions currently being made that the Russian government is seeking to escalate nuclear escalation in Ukraine in an attempt to halt the advances of Ukrainian conventional forces.

Bernard Brodie, another leading nuclear strategist, wrote in his famous 1946 book ‘The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order’:

Thus, the first and most vital step in any American security program for the age of atomic bombs is to take measrus to guarantee to ourselves in case of attack the possibility of retaliation in kind. The writer is making that statement not for the moment concerned about who will win the next war in which atomic bombs are used. Thus far the chief of purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must to be avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.

Brodie pointed out the absurdity of two nuclear powers starting an atomic war with each other because of the degree of mass destruction they would inflict on each other. Military policy should therefore be purely deterrent and based on retaliation. Thus, atomic weapons had to be available in order to be able to punish any kind of attack on an equal footing. With such responsiveness and the possibility of escalation to total destruction, the only logic of weapons is to avoid war itself (deterrence).

As a result, the strategy during the Cold War entered a period often referred to among academics as “nuclear stalemate”. There were no incentives to attack, and the use of nuclear use would be met with another use of atomic weapons, so there was a clear firewall that no strategic actor sought to cross, as moving from conventional war to nuclear war would degenerate into apocalyptic destruction.

However, Kahn and Brodie’s true assertions in the Cold War strategic environment do not fit with today’s assumption that the Russian government would nuclear escalate in Ukraine to try to slow the advances of Ukrainian conventional forces. Understanding the current situation concerning Ukraine, therefore, requires a more comprehensive understanding of the ins and outs of nuclear strategy than simply sticking to the concepts of an atomic standoff and a neatly delineated firewall.

In addition, limiting oneself to these concepts not only fails to explain the current situation in Ukraine, but also fails to explain the very nature of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, in which the limits of the firewalls varied over time, with the powers trying to escape the atomic stalemate.

Finally, one has to be aware that nowadays we are in a strategic environment of the Second Nuclear Age (typical of the Post-Cold War), in clear contrast to the First Nuclear Age (which ran from about 1945 to 1991), much more unstable, unpredictable and tending towards limited nuclear uses.

Launch of a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on October 23, 2012. Source - NASA.
Launch of a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on October 23, 2012. Source – NASA.

The evolution during the Cold War: Not just stalemate and firewalls

In the US deterrence strategy of the 1950s, this clear separation between conventional and nuclear war was reflected in the Massive Retaliation policy. It consisted of full use of nuclear weapons once war hostilities between the West and the communist bloc (then called the Sino-Soviet bloc) reached a certain level. The US would not wait for the communists to use nuclear weapons, although China would conduct its first nuclear test in 1964.

For example, during one of the Taiwan Crises of the 1950s, when it was believed that China was about to launch an attempted invasion of the island, American plans called for nuclear use in the early stages of the conflict. The US’s first steps were solely conventional in an attempt to stop the invasion. Nevertheless, if China was not successfully deterred from its attacks in the first few weeks and made significant gains (even if only on the islands of Qemoy and Matsu), the US would initiate an atomic war against China that would quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear war against the Sino-Soviet bloc.

To paraphrase the vulgar term “Escalate to De-escalate” (which has never existed in the official doctrine of the Russian Federation), American plans in the 1950s were based on “escalate to totally destroy the enemy”. Nuclear military plans and capabilities (type of warheads, bombers, etc.) were not designed to intimidate the adversary and bring him to the negotiating table. Once deterrence among the major powers failed, the aim was not to give the enemy a chance to use its nuclear weapons but to achieve rapid and total destruction.

The great destruction caused by nuclear weapons made it unavoidable, – it was then believed -, to adopt a strategy of Damage Limitation. This strategy consisted of the fact that, if deterrence failed, since atomic war was thought to be inevitable, it was better to anticipate and destroy (for example) 90% of the enemy’s arsenal so that it would cause the least number of deaths.

According to this logic, it would be far better to fight a nuclear war in which only 10 million people would be killed than 100 million. This policy called for a very specific force structure. Bombers and missiles had to be located as close as possible to the borders of the communist bloc (remember that ICBMs did not yet exist), to minimise the flight time to the target and the number of warheads they could carry, resulting in a higher rate of destruction of the enemy’s atomic arsenal.

Massive Retaliation was also reflected in the first Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), which jointly organised the strategic nuclear capabilities of all branches of the US armed forces. For example, if the Cuban Missile Crisis had led to bombing raids against Soviet missiles and the subsequent invasion of Cuba, tactical nuclear missiles would have been fired against the US invasion fleet or IRBM missiles against US cities. SIOP, the plan that would direct the war, would have unleashed total nuclear strikes. The USSR also opted for a massive nuclear response strategy, the first edition of Marshal Sokolovsky’s famous book ‘Soviet Military Strategy’, also advocated the full use of nuclear weaponry against the Western bloc, making similar arguments to their NATO counterparts.

This Massive Retaliation policy, based on Damage Limitation, ended up running up against two strategic realities. First, the Soviets were beginning to have an arsenal that could destroy the US. Second, they could also attack forward American bases that were designed to reach their targets as quickly as possible.

Massive Retaliation established a firewall of frontiers that could be called of maximums. In the event of conventional war against the USSR or China, given the West’s inferiority in conventional weapons, it would escalate directly to the total destruction of the enemy with all available nuclear weapons. In other words, a failure of conventional deterrence led to total war. This policy had a certain logic as long as the USSR did not have a responsive nuclear arsenal. When the Soviets began to develop bombers and continental missiles in sufficient numbers, a point of overkill was reached, at which Damage Limitation no longer made sense. That is, if your country has 200 million people, you might as well reduce the enemy’s retaliatory capacity from killing 1 billion people to 500 million.

Leading nuclear strategists today, such as Henry Kissinger and William Kaufman, wrote books and articles arguing that the USSR, given its superiority in conventional weapons, could launch an invasion of Europe that could only be met by American nuclear strikes. This would have led to Soviet retaliation and mutual destruction. Thus, an absurd situation of nuclear surrender or death was created. The solution was to boost conventional weapons to try to stop such a hypothetical Soviet invasion. As the size of the nuclear firewall shrinks, a large-scale conventional offensive would no longer be met with nuclear weapons.

The second strategic reality that Massive Retaliation encountered was ‘The Delicate Balance of Terror’ and the writings of Albert Wohlstetter. This leading American strategic thinker produced a series of studies for RAND in which he exposed the dangers involved in the design of the American strategic nuclear force structure of the 1950s. Forward deployment maximised the probability of destruction of the adversary arsenal, but being too close to the borders of the USSR meant that there was a risk that, during an international security crisis, the Soviets might decide to launch a pre-emptive strike to implement their own Damage Limitation strategy.

The US nuclear force should no longer be based on intermediate-range bombers and missiles. ‘Operation Chrome Dome’, whereby B-52 intercontinental bombers would be permanently in flight, was derived from these Wohlstetter studies. The B-52s would operate primarily from bases on US soil, which minimised the likelihood of a surprise pre-emptive strike. By keeping the B-52s in the air and close to the borders of the USSR, some ability to strike the Soviets quickly was still maintained. This was the first case in which a nuclear force was designed to sacrifice its ability to win a full-scale nuclear war in favour of minimising the incentive for the enemy to initiate an attack, thereby maintaining deterrence and strategic stability and reducing the likelihood of atomic warfare. 

In the 1960s, the nuclear firewall was further tightened by the policies of Robert McNamara, Kennedy’s secretary of defence, adopting the policy of Flexible Response. In theory, in the face of a large-scale conventional Soviet invasion, the US and NATO would not automatically respond on a massive scale. The response would begin with the use of tactical nuclear weapons and a strategic use that would destroy military and industrial targets, while trying to avoid the deliberate destruction of cities. However, the ‘city avoidance’ strategy required such an amount of localised industrial destruction of Soviet populations that in practice it would have meant total destruction as well.

Consequently, this strategy was replaced by ‘Assured Destruction’, again widening the nuclear firewall. Alain Enthoven’s studies, also for RAND, helped build a strategic nuclear force based on ICBMs and ballistic missile submarines with intercontinental missiles. It was a nuclear force already designed entirely to maintain strategic stability, focused on minimising the likelihood of the USSR launching a counterforce first strike that would disarm the US. The USSR followed a similar path to the US, and Marshal Sokolovsky himself greatly toned down his talk of massive nuclear war in successive editions of ‘Soviet Military Strategy’.

As a curiosity, it is worth noting that the number of warheads required to achieve the destruction of a country varied considerably from one administration to another. The following graph, from the famous book ‘Atomic Audit’, illustrates the number of megatons and warheads needed to achieve this goal. Moreover, the criterion for destruction was not fixed, but varied in different percentages of the total death toll of the adversary population and its industrial potential (sometimes 50%, sometimes 60%, etc.).

Megatons and warheads

As a curiosity, the Russian authors Lata, Golubchikov, Novikov and Aksenov, in their article On the measures of raising the effectiveness of strategic nuclear weapons of the Russian Federation , also speculate on the degrees of destruction needed to intimidate the enemy, as can be seen in the graph below.

Number of warheads that reached the target

During the 1970s, US nuclear strategy again sought to shrink the nuclear firewall with its ‘Limited Options’ policy. This was a strategy for ‘War Termination’, partly similar to what in the West today is called ‘Escalate to De-escalate’. Once deterrence broke down and the USSR began its invasion of Europe, the US would not respond with large-scale strategic nuclear strikes, but would instead destroy a few key targets (military and industrial), demonstrating to the Soviet Union that the war would be too costly. In addition to limited options, there would be a conventional military strategy that could restrain the Soviet advance, embodied in the army’s doctrine of ‘Active Defence’.

Limited Options implied a further reduction of the limits of the nuclear firewall, as well as an erosion of the limits themselves. This is confined to the ever-open debate over whether nuclear war can be limited, or whether it would inevitably escalate to the destruction of cities. Those who argued that nuclear war could be encapsulated and limited were intellectually championed by strategists Colin Gray and Kenneth Payne, who, in their famous article ‘Victory Is Possible’, laid the groundwork for the argument that a nuclear confrontation can be won.

The word “confrontation” should be emphasised so as not to confuse it in this context with “war”. A nuclear confrontation can be a security crisis between two nuclear powers, such as the Cuban crisis, in which there is a clash of wills and the winner is the country that has the greater psychological resolve to accept costs and risks. But also the one who has the material capacity to inflict greater damage on the enemy while at the same time managing to suppress its retaliatory capacity to a minimum. Therefore, they recommended a nuclear arsenal that would be increasingly accurate and develop limited strategic defences. This would provide the capability to destroy most of the enemy’s atomic arsenal, with the strategic defences shooting down most enemy missiles and bombers that were not destroyed.

This strategy, known as ‘Nuclear Supremacy’, which was very much in vogue during the 1970s and 1980s, differs from the ‘Damage Limitation’ strategy in that strategic weapon capabilities are designed not so much to prevail in a war (for when deterrence fails) but to prevail in a security crisis, since, according to this theory, the adversary would understand that he would suffer far more damage than we would. This is embodied in a force structure to prevail in the intermediate rungs of the strategy or in limited nuclear war, such as stopping small-scale atomic attacks (‘Damage Limitation’ is a strategy designed to be used in a scenario that escalates to total war).

This strategy, which very partially began to be applied at the end of the Carter administration and during the earlier Reagan years, was experimented with during the famous ‘Proud Prophet’ war games. Indeed, the game showed that these limited war strategies were counterproductive. When the Red Team was attacked in a limited way, it ended up interpreting that NATO was preparing for a pre-emptive first strike, so that the USSR, instead of ending the war and going to the negotiating table, would nuclear escalate and, instead of creating deterrence, encourage desperate Soviet attacks that led to a planetary catastrophe. This had a major impact on the US military and political leadership, which radically changed its nuclear declaratory policy towards much more moderate positions.

It should be borne in mind that this strategic behaviour, tending towards escalation, was due both to the type of nuclear weapons used and to the political factors of the Cold War. In those years, plans were being prepared for full-scale mechanised warfare to destroy the enemy’s entire military force and to invade its territory. This produced high levels of strategic paranoia because of the total and maximalist objectives at stake, giving little room for negotiation once military hostilities began. In other words, since conventional wars between the superpowers would be fought in totality to achieve total political objectives, nuclear war could hardly be kept limited.

First soviet A-bomb and H-bomb in Sarov. Source - BBC.
First soviet A-bomb and H-bomb in Sarov. Source – BBC.

The rise of precision weapons and limited warfare between great powers

The ‘Proud Prophet’ war game did not mean that the firewall boundaries were re-established and clearly demarcated. On the contrary, the rise of Western precision munitions could destroy the Soviet mechanised army without resorting to tactical nuclear weapons. This was recognised by Soviet Marshal Ogarkov himself, who said that precision had nuclear-like effects. This theoretically allowed deterrence to be broken and operational and strategic effects to be achieved without the use of atomic weapons, which in turn blurred the separation and firewall between nuclear and conventional use. To make matters worse, the ‘AirLand Battle’ doctrine was based on forward defence and counter-attacks deep inside Warsaw Pact territory, planning a defensive war of counter-attacks and ‘manoeuvre warfare’.

Soviet New Military Thought and Marshal Ogarkov’s theories also blurred the boundaries of the atomic firewall as the USSR renounced nuclear first use, developed the famous OMGs (Ogarkov’s Mobile Groups) and planned a war in Europe against NATO in which the USSR would win using only conventional weaponry. In other words, both sides in the Cold War devised military plans to break through the borders of the nuclear firewall and escape the stalemate, thereby gaining freedom of action at the strategic level.

The end of the Cold War brought a role reversal between Russia and NATO. It was now Russia that, because of the severe economic crisis, the loss of Warsaw Pact allies and the disintegration of the USSR, was far inferior in conventional power to the West. In 1993, Russia changed nuclear policy to allow first use of atomic weapons, something it had given up during the Brezhnev era.

Furthermore, Russia aborted plans to reduce its tactical nuclear weapons. Then, in 1991 the US declared that it was giving up almost all of its tactical nuclear arsenal except for a few air-launched and submarine-launched cruise missile warheads (tactical submarines would be abandoned years later). Gorbachev, for his part, announced reductions of more than half of his tactical atomic arsenal. However, already under Yeltsin’s presidency, and due to pressure from General Igor Rodionov (Minister of Defence), Russia warned that Russia’s conventional inferiority made it possible to use tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons.

Rodionov’s stance met with strong opposition from the Russian pro-strategic nuclear weapons sector, which eventually prevailed in the debate by getting Igor Sergeyev, until then commander of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, appointed as Russia’s new defence minister in 1997. Sergeyev allocated much of Russia’s scarce economic resources to maintaining the modernisation of the strategic arsenal, rather than spending the money on conventional or tactical nuclear weapons. The victory of this sector was short-lived, as during the Kosovo War (1999) the strategic nuclear arsenal proved to be of little use in deterring NATO.

It was therefore necessary to develop tactical nuclear capabilities in order to try to confront NATO in a crisis abroad (not on Russia’s borders, as Rodionov put it). It was in those years that the term ‘escalate to de-escalate’ began to be coined. The two best known articles dealing with this issue are Nedelin and Sosnovskiy’s ‘Use of nuclear weapons to de-escalate military operations’ (1999) and Kruglov and Sosnovskiy’s ‘On the Role of Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons in Nuclear Deterrence’ (1997). The most famous and significant for understanding what the Russians mean by escalate to de-escalate is Nedelin’s article. It should be noted that these articles, a priori, have no doctrinal character, but are only the manifestation of currents of opinion within the Russian Armed Forces.

The most important thing about escalate to de-escalate is that it does not really exist as a doctrine and the Russians give it a different meaning from how it is understood by many Western academics and scholars within Russian strategy. In the West, escalate to de-escalate is misunderstood as a way to nuclear escalate the war, so that, out of nuclear fear, the enemy will de-escalate, cease hostilities and return to a diplomatic phase. This would in effect be the ‘War Termination’ of Limited Options (with which Western scholars are more familiar). The Russians, as the title of Nedelin’s article itself states, see the limited use of nuclear weapons as a way to redirect military operations, a way to keep the war in check (not to end it) and prevent the West from deploying all of its (vastly superior technological) conventional military power against Russia.

This phase of Russia’s nuclear strategy, which never became official doctrine, according to some analysts was rehearsed during the 1999 Zapad manoeuvres, during which nuclear strikes against Warsaw were simulated in an attempt to de-escalate the war. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that this actually happened during these exercises and it is not consistent with Nedelin’s writing, which started with demonstrative, then tactical uses on the battlefield, and gradually escalated to all-out nuclear war. Nedelin also did not necessarily speak of progressive use as in Limited Options, but rather, after studying the political psychology of the enemy, a package of nuclear strikes was prepared that would succeed in frightening the adversary in a calibrated and unique way. Limited Options were not based on Soviet psychology, but chose targets of non-capital importance in order to destroy more and more and force War Termination.

This current view of escalation to de-escalate in order to bring the war back on track was supported by Patrusev, the director of National Security, and was stated publicly in 2008. But this view was not unanimous among Russian strategists and was not a doctrinal position of the Russian armed forces.

This confusion over escalate to de-escalate is accentuated by the following graphic shown, which is often circulated in forums and social media, but is not part of any official Russian document or explicitly produced by any author. It is in fact an illustration produced by a US think tank to synthesise the views of some Russian strategists.

Escalate to de-escalate was not even the majority view, as a group of strategists linking in with Ogarkov’s theories on the growing importance of conventional precision weapons was actually the mainstream.

These were the views of General Mahmut Gareev (who was Ogarkov’s own aide-de-camp), Sergey Slipchenko (who proposes the concept of Sixth Generation Warfare and Non-Contact Warfare) and Andrei Kokoshin (who proposes pre-nuclear strategic deterrence). According to them, post-Cold War wars are much more limited, where political means are of increasing importance and the proliferation of long-range precision munitions allows for strategic conventional strikes against critical civilian targets, which can cause massive damage without the use of nuclear weapons.

The political objectives of these wars are limited to deciding, for example, on political influence in countries neighbouring Russia or small overseas interventions. Neither NATO nor Russia had among their main hypotheses the initiation of a massive conventional war. However, in the event of a relatively limited military conflict against the West in scenarios such as Syria or Belarus, the West might be tempted to use its vast technological and industrial superiority to assert itself against Russia. But for Russia to resort directly to tactical nuclear weapons against NATO was unrealistic unless it wanted to risk nuclear war.

The emphasis of strategic doctrine was to be on having plenty of long-range munitions to wreak havoc in NATO countries to deter NATO from attacking Russia directly or intervening in one of its allies. Western governments and public opinion, it was believed, would not be worth it to intervene in Belarus if it meant that much of Central and Eastern Europe would be without electricity. From 2008 Russia began to spend significant financial resources to fight an aerospace salvo competition against NATO, and to design a small, brigade-based army to intervene abroad (not to invade large countries such as Ukraine).

Already in the 2014 Military Doctrine, it was specifically mentioned that the strategic deterrence doctrine added the ‘Prenuclear’ echelon. This implies that the General Defence Plan was designed for a war against NATO, to defend some foreign allied government, and that Russia’s strategy in the event of war with the West would de-escalate directly to the prenuclear echelon of the strategic ladder. It is not escalating to de-escalate, but de-escalating directly to the conventional strategic realm (avoiding nuclear). It should be noted that the Russian General Defence Plan was intended to maintain deterrence in a regional war against NATO (not a local war against Ukraine), and that should deterrence fail, long-range precision-guided weapons would be employed directly (not tactical nuclear weapons to “de-escalate”).

Russian nuclear weapons, in this defence architecture, had the function of preventing escalation to nuclear or the US from using its huge arsenal of conventional missiles to destroy Russian forces. As Nedelin wrote, nuclear weapons would re-direct the war. Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons were the pinnacle and the keystone of this whole strategic edifice by maintaining the risk that the US would not escalate to nuclear for fear of mutual destruction.

The US, in its military doctrines, has no equivalent of pre-nuclear deterrence, but in its doctrinal concept of Multi-Domain Warfare it does prepare for a salvo competition of conventional weapons against Russia. They do not explicitly design their forces for strategic conventional strikes against the Russians, but rather a salvo competition against their military forces. But there is no doubt that the sheer number of US cruise missiles would, in practice, make it possible to wage strategic conventional warfare against Russia.

In the US, strategic reality is imposed on decision-making rather than doctrines and documents. For example, in several war games played during the Obama administration, recounted in Fred Kaplan’s book ‘The Bomb: Presidents, Generals and the Secret History of Nuclear War’, he relates how in the face of a limited Russian invasion (only the Baltics) of NATO, several of the decision-makers were divided on how to respond to Russian nuclear use. Faced with an attack on NATO, invading territory, one of the tables went so far as to decide against a nuclear response. Another decided to respond with atomic weapons but after long discussions and dissension. One of the main figures behind the groundswell of opinion that opposed a nuclear response to the Russian invasion was Colin Kahl, one of the Pentagon’s top civilian officials in the current Biden administration.

This probably explains why US press reports, when quoting official sources on the US posture in the event of tactical or non-strategic nuclear use in Ukraine, do not say that the Americans would respond with nuclear weapons. These reports imply that the response would be more economic pressure, more military aid to Ukraine or, at most, conventional strikes against Russian forces. This is consistent with precedent and the views of current US officials.

Scheme of escalation management according to the Russian vision. Source - CNA.
Scheme of escalation management according to the Russian vision. Source – CNA.

The Second Nuclear Age and the Ukrainian Scenario

In the Second Nuclear Age, the atomic use scenarios put forward by a number of theorists (including this writer) is that the use of nuclear weapons would not automatically escalate to universal destruction (as in the First Age or the Cold War). On the contrary, it would go through limited uses, such as, for example, those in which a regional power would use its atomic arsenal to compensate for its inferiority in conventional weapons. Other scenarios might include: Pakistan against India; North Korea against joint US and South Korean forces; Russia against NATO in a regional war.

In Ukraine we are seeing a very similar, though not exact, scenario to the one usually depicted. In the Ukrainian case, Russia is losing (for now) a local, not a regional war, and would use its nuclear weapons not against NATO but against a non-nuclear country like Ukraine. It should be stressed, lest we take future events for granted, that Russia has not yet been completely defeated in Ukraine, and that the hypothetical nuclear scenario would be if Ukraine were on the verge of defeating the Russian army and recapturing all the lost territory.

If Russia finally decides to go nuclear, NATO could respond with conventional weapons directly against it. This would imply, in practice, a complete and definitive blurring of the nuclear deterrent firewall. Russian nuclear use would not only fail to impose deterrence on NATO, but would, on the contrary, trigger a military response. Nuclear and conventional uses would be dynamically interchanged as the conflict develops, intermingling the firewall boundaries.

The next step in Russian doctrine would be to respond to NATO with conventional weapons as well, since strategic deterrence, as has been said, has a “pre-nuclear” step. But in practice it makes any doctrine a paper tiger. For example, by invading Ukraine and then annexing its territories, which Putin says he will defend with all means (hinting at nuclear ones), nuclear weapons would not be serving defensive purposes, as they did in the Cold War or as they were intended in the current General Defence Plan, the 2014 Military Doctrine, or the 2020 document ‘Basic Principles of the Russian Government’s Policy on Nuclear Deterrence’.

We are now entering the age of offensive deterrence, which is completely different from the defensive deterrence of the Cold War. This is not a phenomenon that is confined to Russia alone, but offensive deterrence is emerging as a new normal, intertwined with the more traditional defensive deterrence. In the Ukrainian case, nuclear deterrence is already being used as a shield to execute aggression against another country. If the threshold of nuclear use is crossed, it would be the culmination of a strategic trend that will be one of the most important features of the Second Nuclear Age, which is becoming more and more evident every year.

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