JRL NEWSWATCH: “Leaked Russian military files reveal criteria for nuclear strike” – Financial Times

Russian Tactical Missile on Mobile Launcher, adapted from image featured by army.mil and defense.gov

“Doctrine for tactical nuclear weapons outlined in training scenarios for an invasion by China”

“… Putin’s forces have rehearsed using tactical nuclear weapons at an early stage of conflict with a major world power, according to leaked Russian military files that include training scenarios for an invasion by China. The [29 secret Russian military files from 2008 to 2014] … describe a threshold for using tactical nuclear weapons … lower than Russia has ever publicly admitted …. Criteria … range from an enemy incursion on Russian territory to more specific triggers …. The exercises offer a rare insight into how Russia views its nuclear arsenal as a cornerstone of … defence policy — and how it trains forces to be able to carry out a nuclear first strike in some battlefield conditions. … [S]lides summarise the threshold as a combination of factors where losses suffered by Russian forces ‘would irrevocably lead to their failure to stop major enemy aggression,’ a ‘critical situation for the state security of Russia.’ Other potential conditions include the destruction of 20 per cent of Russia’s strategic ballistic missile submarines, 30 per cent of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields, or a simultaneous hit on main and reserve coastal command centres. …”

The documents apparently relate to tactical nuclear weapons, designed for use in Europe or Asia perhaps in connection with conventional conflicts, rather than larger strategic nuclear weapons, such as might target U.S. territory.  However, today’s tactical nuclear weapons can be significantly more destructive than the early atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The United States has estimated that Russia has at least 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons.

In 2023, Putin spoke to two possible thresholds for Russian nuclear weapons use, retaliation against a nuclear first strike and if ‘the very existence of Russia as a state comes under threat even if conventional weapons are used.’

Even though the files date back to earlier in the 21st century, experts contend that they still hold relevance to current Russian policies.

Click here for: “Leaked Russian military files reveal criteria for nuclear strike; Doctrine for tactical nuclear weapons outlined in training scenarios for an invasion by China” – Financial Times: Max Seddon, Chris Cook