Is Russia changing its nuclear doctrine?

Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, believes that a nuclear war may break out in the world in case a nuclear power - i.e. Russia - loses a conventional war.

The conditions for Russia to resort to nuclear weapons are enshrined in the Russian nuclear doctrine. The doctrine has not changed nor has it any contradictions, Kremlin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Peskov's comment came in response to the recent post made by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev. In the post, Medvedev wrote that a nuclear war could break out if a nuclear power loses a conventional war.

"No, that doesn't mean that at all. This goes in full accordance with our nuclear doctrine. Read the nuclear doctrine, there are no contradictions there,” Peskov said answering a question whether Russia's nuclear doctrine was changing.

Here is what Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel on January 19:

"Tomorrow, at NATO's Ramstein base, the great military leaders will discuss new tactics and strategies, as well as the suppliesy of new heavy weapons and strike systems to Ukraine. This is going to happen right after the forum in Davos, where underdeveloped political party-goers were repeating like a mantra: "To achieve peace, Russia must lose."

"It does not occur to any of the wretched to draw the following elementary conclusion from this: if a nuclear power loses a conventional war, this may trigger a nuclear war. Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts that determined their destiny. This should be obvious to anyone, even to a Western politician who has retained at least vestiges of intelligence."

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the latest version of the nuclear doctrine in the summer of 2020. The document lists the conditions under which Russia may use nuclear weapons:

  • receiving reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles targeting territories of Russia and/or its allies;
  • the use of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction targeting territories of Russia;
  • attack of the enemy on state or military facilities of critical importance in Russia, the failure of which will lead to the disruption of retaliatory actions of nuclear forces;
  • aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is threatened.

Medvedev regularly touches upon nuclear issues on his Telegram channel:

  • in September, he spoke about Russia's right to use nuclear weapons if necessary;
  • in October he criticised former CIA chief Leon Panetta for calling for the use of all military means against Russia in the event of a nuclear threat in Ukraine;
  • in November he called "Russia's complete and final victory" a guarantee of preventing nuclear conflict.

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Author`s name Petr Ernilin
Editor Dmitry Sudakov
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