JRL NEWSWATCH: “What do Putin’s constitutional changes mean for Russian nuclear launch authority?” – Federation of American Scientists/ Matt Korda

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

“… This shift in power [under the new system proposed by Putin] …  poses a series of complications for Russia’s system of nuclear launch authority. Under Article 87.1 of the Russian Constitution, the President is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces … the Law On Defence states that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is the ultimate authority on all nuclear-related matter. … [T]he current Russian military doctrine states that ‘The decision to use nuclear weapons shall be taken by the President of the Russian Federation.’ … [T]he President possesses a Cheget briefcase … to monitor strategic crises and transmit nuclear command decisions through the Kazbek command and control network, using the Kavkaz special communications system. … it is widely believed that both the Defense Minister and the Chief of the General Staff also possess Cheget briefcases, although ultimate launch authority rests with the President. … The situation in Russia is shifting quite rapidly, and absent more details about how Putin intends to define the balance of power after 2024, one can only speculate as to how nuclear launch authority will develop under these new constitutional changes. …”

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