Putin: Rethinking the use of nuclear weapons


Lerato Khumalo

Vladimir Putin is building new, weaker nuclear weapons and is rethinking the Russian nuclear doctrine. One expert sees the world close to a nuclear war.

First there were indications from the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries, now President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that the Russian nuclear doctrine could soon change. He justifies this with an allegedly lower inhibition threshold among Western states when it comes to using nuclear weapons.

“Atomic bombs with low explosive power are being developed specifically,” the Kremlin chief said on Thursday at a press conference in Hanoi at the end of his visit. Putin claimed that Western experts “apparently see nothing bad” in the use of so-called mini-nukes. In other words: The dictator has realized that his threats of nuclear weapons are not having the desired effect in the West when it comes to further arms deliveries to Ukraine. “This is also related to my statement that we are considering possible changes in our strategy.”

Putin went on to say that Russia does not need a pre-emptive strike within the framework of its nuclear doctrine, “because a retaliatory strike is guaranteed to destroy the enemy.” The Russian army is prepared for “all possible scenarios” on the front line in Ukraine, the Russian leader added.

  • Arsenal of terror: These are Putin’s tactical nuclear weapons

The current Russian nuclear doctrine states that Moscow may only use nuclear weapons in two cases: in the event of a nuclear attack on Russia or if an attack with conventional weapons endangers the country’s existence. It is not known exactly what a new version of the nuclear doctrine will look like. It is still being formulated, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies.

The vague definition of the doctrine so far has prompted some Russian hardliners to urge the Kremlin to reassess its position and force the West to take the warnings more seriously.

Putin: Defeat on the battlefield would be the end of Russia

Some Western countries have allowed Ukraine to use its weapons on Russian territory to a limited extent. Russia does not yet see this as a Western attack on its country – despite previous warnings from Moscow. According to the Ukrainian “Kyiv Independent”, Putin also said at the press conference in Vietnam that the West is pushing Russia towards a strategic defeat in Ukraine. “This means the end of the thousand-year history of the Russian state. I think that is clear to everyone,” Putin said at a press conference at the end of his state visit to Vietnam. “The question arises: why should we be afraid? Isn’t it better to go to the end?”

In May, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it would practice the use of nuclear weapons. During maneuvers, nuclear missiles were transported on trucks. On June 10, Belarus began joint maneuvers with Russia, which also involved the use of nuclear weapons.

Enlarge the image
Russian nuclear maneuver near the Ukrainian border. (Source: imago images)

According to a professor at the prestigious US university Harvard, the world is now dangerously close to a nuclear world war. “Dark clouds are gathering on the nuclear horizon,” wrote Matthew Bunn, professor of national security and foreign policy, in an article for the journal Science. “The world may soon be faced with an unbridled arms race for the first time in more than five decades – and a more complex race involving more countries and more technologies,” he writes.

He warned that the START nuclear arms reduction agreement between Russia and the United States, agreed in 2010, was the last of its kind and would expire in 2026. Russia had blocked inspections and was making no effort to negotiate a new treaty.

Kim Jong-un (l.) and Vladimir Putin on a car ride in Pyongyang. According to a US expert, the danger of nuclear war is also growing because of North Korean missiles.Enlarge the image
Kim Jong-un (l.) and Vladimir Putin on a car ride in Pyongyang. According to a US expert, the danger of nuclear war is also growing because of North Korean missiles. (Source: Korean Central News Agency)

The scientist attributes the growing danger of nuclear war to Putin’s threats in the Ukraine conflict, but also to the construction of new missile silos in China, the tensions between the nuclear powers India and Pakistan, and Iran’s nuclear program. There are currently more than 12,000 nuclear warheads worldwide. According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has around 5,580 warheads, the USA around 5,100, China 500, France 290 and Great Britain 225. India and Pakistan each have around 170, Israel has 90 and North Korea 50.