Vladimir Putin Reaffirms Russian Doctrine on the Use of Nuclear Weapons

During a discussion at the Valdai Club’s annual conference on Oct. 5 in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected any notion of lowering the threshold for Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. He was responding to a question from Sergei Karaganov, a founding member of the Valdai Club, who suggested the government should modify its doctrine and move “steadily and sufficiently quickly along the staircase of escalation”.

At a time when so much disinformation on this matter is circulating, it is useful to hear what the Supreme Commander-in-Chief himself had to say. He began by reminding the audience that there are two reasons for using nuclear weapons laid out in Russia’s nuclear doctrine. “The first is the use of nuclear weapons against us, which would entail a so-called retaliatory strike,” he said. The response to a nuclear attack on Russian soil “will be absolutely unacceptable for any potential aggressor, because seconds after we detect the launch of missiles, wherever they are coming from, from any point in the World Ocean or land, the counterstrike in response will involve hundreds — hundreds of our missiles in the air, so that no enemy will have a chance to survive. And [we can respond] in several directions at once,” he added. The second reason is a conventional attack on Russia sufficiently powerful to threaten the existence of the Russian state.

“Do we need to change this? Why would we? Everything can be changed, but I just don’t see that we need to,” Vladimir Putin continued. “There is no situation imaginable today where something would threaten Russian statehood and the existence of the Russian state. I do not think anyone in their right mind would consider using nuclear weapons against Russia.”

On the same occasion, causing great consternation in NATO circles, the Russian President reported that the development of the new strategic weapons he had announced in 2018 is nearing completion. The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile has a basically unlimited range.

In response to another question asked about the future of Nord Stream, Putin said that Russia was ready to begin delivery of gas to Germany through the undamaged Nord Stream 2 pipeline, up to 27 billion cubic meters per year, if the German authorities so requested. He called the sabotage of the other Nord Stream pipelines an “act of terrorism” and accused the United States of being behind the attack, with the aim of selling their own gas to Europe. (cf. SAS 40/23)

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