SMA STRATCOM Academic Alliance speaker session presented by Ms. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard (Center for International Security and Cooperation [CISAC] at Stanford University) entitled “Russian Nuclear Strategy after the Cold War” on Tuesday 17 April at 1100 ET.
During this session, Ms. Ven Bruusgaard will discuss the following content:
Russian Nuclear Strategy after the Cold War
Russian declaratory nuclear strategy has shifted significantly since the fall of the Soviet Union. While President Yeltsin adopted a strict nuclear deterrence strategy, Presidents Putin and Medvedev both expressed ambiguous nuclear strategies where nuclear weapons compensated for conventional shortcomings. This paper explores the content, causes and consequences of this fluctuation in Russian nuclear strategy after the Cold War. It argues that the Russian military effectively monopolizes nuclear strategy, and that shifts in their preference cause change in strategy. Russian military and civilian strategy debates, Russian laws and decrees, archival material, and interviews demonstrate that the division of labor between military and civilian policymakers produces nuclear strategy aligned with military concerns for how to fight wars, rather than with civilian concerns for how to avoid wars. The Russian regime is less centralized than orthodoxy prescribes, and the Russian military an increasingly powerful lobby. They will dictate a future Russian nuclear strategy focusing on the military utility of nuclear weapons.