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On Russia’s use of nuclear weapons

By dear friend Quantum Bird, who handles Communidad Saker Latino Americano https://t.me/SakerLatinoAmerica.  Mainly published in Portugese and Spanish, this was translated from the original. 

The discussion about using nuclear weapons in “preventive” attacks by the Russian Federation is old and gets reinvigorated, with increasing intensity, whenever Russia plays a leading role in the global geopolitical arena, in its existential struggle for sovereignty.

On the other hand, the recent article by Prof. Serguei A. Karaganov, A Difficult But Necessary Decision, seems to have touched many sensibilities, which has motivated responses and comments from all around. Karaganov is a high-ranking HSE official (High School of Economics, a notorious institution in Russia for its liberal economic stance), a leading historian and intellectual, who has always “militated” with Russia’s liberalism promoters.

In the following lines, using the usual point-bullet style, I intend to expose the complete impertinence of this discussion.

  • Russian military doctrine is quite clear on the use of nuclear weapons:
    “Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it or its allies, and also in case of aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the State is threatened”.
  • Russia has a vast and growing deterrence capacity using conventional weapons, that is, non-nuclear ones.
  • The technical and military means at Russia’s disposal allow complete escalation control. We are seeing this in Ukraine, whose counter-offensive supported by the entire collective West has not even been able to reach the first line of defence of Russian forces. This result was obtained without having to resort to the use of any strategic weapon.
  • Prof. Karaganov seems to ignore or not really understand contemporary Russian military stature and, hence, to reason in terms of 1990s Russia, which, as Andrei Martyanov would say, was nailed to the wall of nuclear deterrence. Therefore, it lacked many, if any, options for conventional deterrence and was deprived of the exercise of strategic ambiguity.
  • In 2023, it is the Collective West that is nailed to the wall of nuclear deterrence, unable to wage and win any conventional conflict against a far inferior opponent (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen), not to mention a “peer”, or near peer, opponent
  • The military-technological abyss between Russia and the Collective West is widening and deepening at the same time. And very fast. There is simply no prospect of economic, technological and cultural development to restore conventional Western deterrence. Therefore…
  • The calls for, and all the hype over, Russia’s use of nuclear weapons are pure reflections of the desperation of Western elites, and their vassals, due to the diagnosis expressed in the points above.

Finally, but not least, there is also a systemic aspect that allows us to understand Prof. Karaganov. Obviously, his diagnosis of the deplorable societal state of the Collective West is correct. And it is also true that Western elites have lost their lucidity. However, whether their lucidity could be restored by detonating nuclear artefacts in Europe or Oceania is debatable. And here we come to the point about the systemic failure of Western “strategic reasoning”, which is also clearly revealed in Prof. Karaganov.

“Social scientists” lack the training in physics and mathematics necessary to articulate the key concepts that define modern military tactical and strategic calculus. For example: why Prof. Did Karaganov not conclude his article proposing the resumption of nuclear tests by the Russian Federation? Or even the more radical option – also contemplated by Russian military doctrine – of a targeted conventional attack on Western decision-making centres openly involved in hostilities against the Russian Federation?

My personal understanding is that the discussion of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons is counterproductive and only serves to distract the public from the agendas that really matter: de-dollarization, decolonization, and building sovereignty and multipolarity.

Originally written in Portuguese here: Saker Latin America

Translated by Lady Bharani