Recently both Pravda and TASS, official news sources in Russia have touted Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal and suggested that nuclear weapons were not only more important than previously believed but also suggested the re-emergence of the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).
The cold war doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was based upon the assumptions that:
1.Each side had sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy the other side; and
2.Either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate without fail with equal or greater force.
The expected result was an immediate irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants’ mutual, total and assured destruction. This set of events lead to the assumption that neither side would dare to launch a first strike because the other side would launch on warning. The result of the MAD doctrine was a tense but stable peace.
Russia seems to be returning to such a doctrine as a way of trying to reassert a position as super power. Pravda recently said: “…the US State Department published a report, in which it was stated that for first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia reached parity with the US in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington admitted that Moscow regained the status that the Soviet Union had obtained by mid-70’s of the XX century and then lost.”
Pravda went on to say: “It just so happens that today, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles……Having written off Moscow as a serious geopolitical rival, flying on the wings of inaccessible military and technological superiority, Washington drove itself into a trap, from which it does not see a way out even in a medium-term perspective.”
The article went on to stress Russia’s superiority over NATO not only in theater nuclear weapons but also conventional weapons.
When on couples the above with a recent TASS announcement that Russia is considering whether to again deploy missile trains to reduce the probability of a successful disarming first strike it certainly sounds like the return to a nuclear standoff and thus MAD.
This nuclear bellicosity reinforces Russia’s assertiveness in the Ukraine and elsewhere. In the past we roundly criticized the Obama administration’s “reset” policy towards Russia. Recent events further demonstrate the folly of that policy.
Recently we wrote that the Russian “bold strategy is dependent upon the perception of a weak US and NATO. This is what has emboldened Putin. How far will this strategy proceed? Stay tuned.