August 2016 – MOSCOW – Troubling signs are emerging that Russia is preparing for a nuclear war with the U.S. Whether that war happens soon or sometime much later will depend on U.S. actions and the decisions made by Putin and key members of the Russian leadership if they interpret U.S. actions as a legitimate existential threat to the Russian Federation. A new cold war between the two countries is heating up. NATO troops are parked on Russia’s doorstep. A US-based missile shield is to be erected in Romania and Poland. The U.S. and Russia are engaged in a no-holds barred proxy war in the Ukraine and Syria. Russian jets are buzzing American ships in the Black Sea. Against American wishes, Russia is providing advanced anti-aircraft defensive systems to both Iran and Syria. Neither side really trusts each and what little, if any, trust there is left is rapidly eroding. We have all the makings of a potential nuclear conflict.
Strategic nuclear arsenals are like an advanced, dangerous chess game. However, like in any good chess match, we believe such an earth-shattering decision as a unilateral preemptive nuclear strike is more likely to be made when one side appears to have gained the strategic imperative and the other side is stealthily capable of exploiting his opponent’s vulnerability. Such a window to launch an attack may occur in 2017 and beyond, after the 2016 U.S. election (between Clinton and Trump) has been decided by American voters. Only by examining all the evidence collectively can we get a comprehensive picture of possible Russian intentions. One thing you’ll agree on is that this new cold war tension between Russia and the U.S. is much more dangerous than what the public, heretofore, has been led to believe.
Let’s begin our four-part series with the Russian military doctrinal belief that a preemptive nuclear strike is more likely to be launched when one side believes it has enough of a strategic advantage over the other side to tip the balance of power in its favor. We will hear this expressed from Vladimir Putin himself in an address recorded at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which occurred from June 16–18, of 2016.
Many things emerged from Putin’s speech, particularly the candid admission that Russia was instrumental in negotiating or brokering Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran to stave off a potential war in the Middle East involving Israel. What Russia wanted in return for its cooperation on the Iranian deal and how that plays into the present cold-war dilemma with the U.S. will be discussed more at length later. For now – how dangerous is the Russian threat to the U.S.?
The answer is expressed by American military officials themselves: “Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, said that it was only the Russian army that could pose a threat to the United States of America. The official also said that Russia was the only country in the world that could destroy the United States.
Recently, top US officials have been pointing out the growth of Russia’s military power. The commander of US forces in Europe, Ben Hodges, said that Russia was capable of showing resistance even to a technologically superior enemy owing to its air defense system and anti-ship complexes.” –Pravda
Russia now only believes it can win a nuclear exchange with the U.S. It has held to this belief since 2014. Consequently, Vladimir Putin is preparing his country for the potential likelihood of a nuclear war. Not surprisingly, this preparation is not limited to the underground bunker complex the Russians have constructed in the Ural Mountains or under the streets of Moscow – it includes a complete modernization of all of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Consider the November 20, 2014 article below in Forbes magazine called, Does Russia think their new nuclear weapons could win a war?
Does Russia think their new nuclear weapons could win a war? A new round of Russian nuclear weapons development, their new aggressive posture and their new spurning of joint nuclear programs with the United States, all point to a disconcerting trend in Russian thinking amid a growing confidence in the nation’s military capabilities. Americans have short memories. Russians don’t. It’s only been 25 years since the Wall came down, but in Russia’s mind the Cold War didn’t end. If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t enough of a heads-up, then maybe their new generation of tactical nuclear weapons is.
On September 10, Putin said Russia will develop a new guaranteed nuclear deterrent to counter the United States and NATO. Actually, they already have. Russia reportedly thinks its tactical nukes are now better than both ours and NATO’s. NATO member countries have only 260 older tactical weapons. Sited in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey, the U.S. has 200 nuclear bombs with an overall capacity of 18 megatons. France has 60 atomic bombs.
The US has 300 tactical B-61 bombs on its own territory, but this does not touch the imbalance. The United States cannot improve this situation as we have destroyed many of our Cold War tactical nuclear missiles, land-based missiles and sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles. And we pinned ourselves with our own treaties. The recent START 3 treaty was overwhelmingly favorable to Russia. Russia has developed long-range cruise missiles of a new generation that will soon be deployed on submarines of the Black Sea Fleet and missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla. The U.S. State Department admitted as much in a report published at the beginning of September, stating that Russia has passed us in nuclear weapons capability for the first time in 40 years.
Letting our nuclear arsenal fall into disrepair is one thing (Washington Post), but allowing Russia to build a new strategic nuclear weapons force more advanced than ours is another thing altogether. And they even have a new generation of missiles. So Russia does think it has the upper hand. And they might, if Putin and the hard-liners are willing to use force as much as they seem lately. Maybe it’s just coincidental that Russia plans to send long-range bombers to the Gulf of Mexico “just for practice.” Russia has decided not to participate in scheduled joint nuclear security efforts with the United States. Russia is boycotting a U.S.-hosted international security summit meeting in 2016.
When the heads-of-state gave Putin too much grief about the Ukraine at the G-20 meeting last week, he just got up and left. The decline in U.S.-Russian relations is symptomatic of many things and can be dangerous as isolation can breed misinterpretations (NY Times). Russia views our Congress as weak and ineffective, hamstringing our Commander-in-Chief. Russia is paranoid that they themselves will be seen as weak. And Kremlin hard-liners are reticent about letting U.S. experts into their nuclear sites. –Forbes