Jeffrey LewisRussian Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Just before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved, 14-4, the resolution of advice and consent for the New START treaty in September, Idaho Senator Jim Risch attempted to stop the vote, arguing that he had “shocking information that if true would fundamentally impact the treaty and should prevent the committee from proceeding in any way.”

At the time, in a post titled A Curious Sort of Leak, I noted how odd it was that the information didn’t end up splashed across the front page of the Washington Times.  To me, that suggested “the details will prove somewhat of a letdown” and that “Like other things in life, perhaps this intelligence is sexier when something is left to the imagination.”

Boy, was I was right.

Adam Entous and Jonathan Weisman at the Wall Street Journal have now revealed Risch’s “shocking” information.

The precise claim — or, at least, its first phrasing — is that “The U.S. believes Russia has moved short-range tactical nuclear warheads to facilities near North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies as recently as this spring, U.S. officials say.”

That is still vague, not least because Entous and Weisman use the following phrases are used interchangeably: “short-range tactical nuclear warheads” “ground-based tactical weapons” “tactical nuclear weapons” and “tactical nuclear deployments.” Those are four different things: warheads, missiles, missiles armed with warheads, and units associated with missiles and warheads.  Good grief!

But as best I can tell, this is what has happened: Russia has begun the long-expected deployment of conventionally-armed Iskander missiles in Western Russia, starting with a unit near St. Petersburg.  A small group in the US intelligence community has long argued that Russia is secretly developing, using hydronuclear tests, a low-yield nuclear warhead for the Iskander (as well as a new ALCM).

The Iskander deployment, as well as the debate about New START, allows that group to reprise their argument that Russia is secretly developing new tactical nuclear weapons.

The Iskander Deploys in 2010

Russian officials have been talking about deploying a new conventionally armed missile for many years.  In this case, the system is the Iskander — which can come armed with both ballistic missiles (the SS-26 Stone) and ground-launched cruise missiles. (Later variants may incorporate artillery and multiple rocket launchers.)  The Russians seem taken with conventionally armed missiles, using the 2008 Georgia war to crush some cars in Georgia (an SS-21)  — we covered this at the time: Did Russia Fire SS-26s at Georgia?, More SS-sumthin’ Pics, SS-21 Debris in Georgia, Revisited — and kill a Dutch journalist (possibly an SS-26).  Charming, really.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — peeved at the impending deployment US missile defense assets in Poland — also openly threatened to deploy the Iskander in Kaliningrad, the little pocket of Russia cut off from the motherland by Poland and Lithuania.

Medvedev later changed his mind about this bit of saber-rattling after the US altered the missile defense architecture in Europe. A Russian military official in July told a radio station, Moscow Echo, that Iskander deployments had begun to occur along Russia’s western border, starting in the Leningrad Military District.

The coincidence of timing and location is too much to ignore, especially given the persistent belief among some that the Iskander will be nuclear-armed.

What Happened in Kaliningrad in 2001?

Entous and Wiseman appear to conflate the Iskander deployment with a similar incident in 2001, when some in the IC argued that Russia was deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad. Deployments in the Leningrad Military Region are in an area “bordering NATO allies.”  It is also true that Entous and Weisman are careful to never assert that the deployments are in Kaliningrad.  But they’ve written the article in such as way as to give the casual reader the impression that the missiles are in Kaliningrad.

According to the U.S. assessment, Russia has expanded tactical nuclear deployments near NATO allies several times in recent years. An example is Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania. A State Department cable from April 2009 said Russia had warned it would take countermeasures, including putting ‘missiles’ in Kaliningrad, in response to expanded U.S. missile defenses in Europe.

There are a lot of problems with this paragraph.  It is, obviously, misleading to mention the threat to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad without noting that the Russians withdrew the threat and that the current deployment suggests they kept their word.  (That would be awkward, of course, since this is an article about Russian cheating.)

Nor am I persuaded by the claim by Entous and Weisman that Russia has “expanded tactical nuclear deployments near NATO allies several times in recent years.”  I know of one instance, nine years ago, that remains murky.  In that case, the United States had satellite images of a shipping containers aboard a Russian military train at a seaport near St. Petersburg, followed three days later by images of the containers arriving in Kaliningrad.

Although some people argued that these might be tactical nuclear weapons for Russian missiles, the United States had no idea what kind of missiles they were. One U.S. official told Reuters at the time, “over the last six months there has been some movement of tactical nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad – we don’t know how many, we don’t know what type and we don’t know why.”

Walter Pincus, writing in the Washington Post, reported that the weapons were being stored at a naval base, which raised the possibility that Russia was using a depot in Kaliningrad to store naval tactical nuclear weapons  (Under the 1991/1992 PNIs, Russia agreed only to eliminate 1/3 of its sea-based tactical nuclear weapons.  The rest were to be placed in storage. Kaliningrad is as good as place as any, I suppose.)

A Long-Standing Debate

I had an inkling of who might be behind all this Risch’s “shocking” information, when I chose my “not entirely hypothetical” example of a typical leak: An August 1997 story by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times, entitled “Russia Suspected of Nuclear Testing.”

This was the earliest salvo in a long-running publicity campaign by a small faction in the United States intelligence community that believes Russia is using hydronuclear tests to develop a low-yield nuclear warheads.

This group was responsible for the allegation that Russia had conducted a clandestine nuclear test in 1997 (which turned out to be an earthquake in all probability), allegations that Russia was developing new nuclear warheads just before the Senate considered the CTBT in 1999, and the kerfuffle over Kaliningrad in 2001.

Some of the intelligence reports generated by this crowd during the CTBT debate have been partially declassified. This group has long argued that Russia will place this new low-yield nuclear weapon on the Iskander weapons system, which comprises both a ballistic missile (the SS-26 Stone) and a ground-launched cruise missile.

It was presumably the first deployment of the Iskander this spring that fired them up again.

The intelligence community does not have a consensus view on whether Russia is using hydronuclear tests to develop new warheads.  In 2001, Bill Broad wrote a wonderful story, Dispute Over Nuclear Testing Divides U.S. Experts, that detailed the contours of this debate:

But some federal intelligence analysts charge that Russia is engaging in a type of outlawed test known as hydronuclear. In those tests, metallic bomb parts are thrown together explosively, liquefying (thus the hydro) while releasing small amounts of nuclear energy. The tests stop short of a large blast, releasing perhaps a millionth of the energy of the Hiroshima bomb.

Experts agree that hydronuclear tests can have some use in the design of new nuclear arms, although the extent is debated.

The intelligence team that says Russia is lying includes Lawrence Turnbull, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst, and Charles Craft, a Sandia National Laboratory analyst, officials said.

Mr. Craft leads a panel of the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee, a group that represents the nuclear views of many federal agencies.

The two, officials added, form the core of a group within the intelligence community that believes that it has evidence that Moscow is going over the hydronuclear line in an effort to develop new kinds of nuclear arms.

Part of the team’s evidence, a federal official said, centers on highly sensitive intelligence sources that are seen as giving Washington a clearer view into Moscow’s activities on Novaya Zemlya. Neither Mr. Turnbull nor Mr. Craft responded to requests for comment.

Officials said the State Department is skeptical of the accusation and has written formal rebuttals.

The differing sides in the dispute are trying to influence the formal process by which the federal government periodically makes judgments about secret foreign activities. This National Intelligence Estimate seeks to describe the likely state of development in the Russian nuclear program.

And although Larry Turnbull has since retired, I believe he has remained as a consultant to assist with the preparation of the new NIE on foreign nuclear testing that was intended to pave the way for ratification of the CTBT.  The debate continues.

The one thing Broad didn’t mention, that is important to understanding this debate, is that Russia declared 85 hydronuclear experiments at Semipalatinsk prior to the testing moratorium in 1989. (The US, by contrast, did only a handful during the 1958-1961 testing moratorium.)  Eighty-five is a surprising number that suggests Russia valued (or values) such tests in a way we did not.  The Russians say these were not tests to development nuclear weapons or industrial explosives, but experiments to better understand the complex physics of nuclear explosions.  Turnbull and others, however, don’t find that a compelling reason to do 85 of the damned things.

The inability to satisfactorily explain the curious Russian enthusiasm for hydronuclear tests has allowed this debate to rage, from the ill-fated decision to demarche the Russians in 1997, through the Senate’s failure in 1999 to ratify the CTBT, and now to questions about whether Russia has abandoned the commitments it made in the 1991 and 1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives.

1991/1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives

In 1991 and 1992, Washington and Moscow (first, the Soviet Union, then Russia) made a set of parallel, unilateral reductions in the number so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons.  Among the actions Moscow announced, one was that “all nuclear artillery munitions and nuclear warheads for tactical missiles are being eliminated.”

The Russians took much longer to withdraw such weapons to central storage than did the Unites States.  Both sides took their sweet time to complete dismantling warheads: The United States completed its eliminations in 2003, while as late as of 2004, the Russians were saying that they had “practically” completed the pledge.  “Practically” means some ground-based weapons remained to be dismantled because of “technical” and “financial” factors.  US officials, obviously, viewed such delays with skepticism.  As Russia moved to deploy a new, conventional missile system — the Iskander — it has become fodder in the debate about whether Russia was waiting for new tactical nuclear weapons before dismantling the old ones.

This debate flared up in public a few times during the Bush Administration.  In 2004, Steve Rademaker told an Interfax roundtable that “considerable concern exists that the Russian commitments have not been entirely fulfilled.” The comment drew a sharp rebuke from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which asserted they had “practically carried out in full all of the TNW reduction initiatives that had been put forward.” The statement also, however, described the measures as a “goodwill gesture.” The State Department followed up with a much more watered-down statement that “We believe that Russia, for the most part, has been implementing its PNI pledges, but the U.S. will continue to keep this issue under review.”

The controversy did not go away.  Rademaker repeated the statement in 2006.  And the assertion Russia is developing a low-yield tactical nuclear warhead for the Iskander also probably helped to hold up the release of the State Department’s “annual” Compliance Report (which has been issued only twice in recent years, in 2005 and 2009).  I am told that Turnbull was a major reason for the delay in the interagency process between 2005 and 2009.  And then there is this curious fact: The 2009 Compliance Report, like other governments reports, has a glossary of abbreviations (in case you don’t know your ass from your ASW).  The glossary 2009 Compliance Report includes an entry for “PNI” — the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives on tactical nuclear weapons.  The term doesn’t, however, appear in the text (or in previous compliance reports).  It seems pretty clear that a draft contained a section on the PNIs that was later removed, but someone forgot to delete the entry from the glossary.

It isn’t hard to believe, then, that the initial deployment of Iskander missile systems provided another opportunity to revisit this debate.  The Russians, for their part, don’t make it easy to trust them: In recent years, they merely note that they’ve reduced their non-strategic arms by 3/4.  They don’t mention the commitments made in 1991 and 1992.

(As a side note, this isn’t the same as openly violating the PNIs. You may read that Russia is openly violating the PNI by deploying nuclear-armed cruise missiles. Russia does openly maintain nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles aboard attack submarines and some officials have talked of replacing the warheads with low-yield versions. [See the comments posted by Nikolai Sokov and Pavel Podvig in the comment section below.] As you might expect with unilateral statements, the US and Russians didn’t count the same systems: we considered nuclear-armed Tomahawk missiles “tactical” and removed them under Bush’s PNI; the Russians, however, do not think that way about the SS-N-21 and did not retire the system.  They wanted the weapons counted under START, but had to settle for a side agreement that capped the deployment of SLCMs at 880.)


If Russia were to deploy new nuclear weapons with Iskander, would that be inconsistent with the 1991/1992 PNIs?  I wouldn’t like it, but one can easily imagine the Russian Steve Rademaker arguing, in that lawyerly way, that having completed elimination of existing stocks, Russia is under no obligation not to replace them.

In fact, Russia isn’t under many obligations any more.  And that is really the problem here: Russia’s legal obligations when it comes to nuclear weapons are pretty few and far between these days.  Between various Russian statements about the PNIs and 1987 INF Treaty, US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and the expiration of START, Moscow is down to two: an obligation not to defeat the purpose of the CTBT and an obligation to make reductions outlined in the New START treaty (which supercedes the Moscow Treaty).

With the CTBT facing little change of ratification by the US Senate, I am not sure I would count on Russia remaining under that constraint indefinitely.  Which leaves us with New START.

The Entous and Weisman story was leaked with the purpose of discouraging Senators from voting for New START. Already, Senator Jim DeMint has threatened to filibuster the New START treaty, in part based on the claim that Russia is deploying tactical nuclear weapons near NATO.

To my mind, that is backwards: A look at the deep divisions within the US intelligence community that causes us to see new Russian nuclear weapons in every woodpile suggests the problem is that we have too little arms control: too few obligations, not enough verification.

It seems clear that, if we don’t have New START, we will need something like it.

Which brings us to the key question: Would rejecting New START make it more likely that we would get a better agreement on verification?  Or a new agreement on tactical nuclear weapons? Or transparency measures relating to Russian testing activities at Novaya Zemlya?

No, no, and no.

If you don’t like Russian tactical nuclear weapons, you have to take it up with the Russians.  And rejecting new START makes that harder, not easier.


  1. Sam (History)

    That should be Idaho Senator Jim Risch, not Larry Risch…

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I totally have a mental block about that. I think I knew a Larry Risch once and I always call him Larry.

      He kind of looks like a Larry, actually.

  2. FSB (History)

    Republicans want the chicken before the egg: they want a treaty addressing tacnukes without the bother of sitting down with the Ruskies to hammer out a more modest New START first.

    Why doesn’t Mitt Romney go to Moscow and hammer out a tacnuke treaty that he obviously wants so badly?

    The Idiot had the temerity to publish this in the Globe after Kissinger et al ‘s Post OpEd yesterday:

    • Scott Monje (History)

      The Republicans want a treaty addressing tacnukes without the bother of sitting down with the Ruskies to hammer out a treaty on tacnukes, either.

  3. Pavel (History)

    It is not quite clear if “Russia does openly maintain nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles aboard attack submarines.”

    There are question about the Sergei Ivanov statement – it is most likely not true. I wrote about it at the time – and Unfortunately, State Department wouldn’t release the relevant data exchange (could somebody, please, leak one?), but the circumstantial evidence suggests that no Russian sub carried nuclear SLCMs at the time. Good Russian sources also confirmed that.

    As for the second quote, about “replacing the [SLCM] warheads with low-yield versions,” in the original Russian statement it is quite clear that Admiral Burtsev had something else in mind – he was saying that if low-yield warheads are developed at some point, they could be deployed at the existing SLCMs. He did not say that there are (larger-yield) nuclear warheads deployed right now.

    • Nikolai Sokov (History)

      I agree with Pavel – it is my understanding that warheads are stored on shore at facilities controlled by the 12th GUMO. They can be released as needed (and Vekhovtsev confirmed that in the 2007 interview I cite below), but I do not think there are nuclear warheads on board vessels except for SLBMs.

  4. Nikolai Sokov (History)

    A few additions to Jeffrey’s excellent post. Four points, to be precise: Are Iskanders nuclear? Which TNW Russia will emphasize? Why Iskanders are being deployed to the West? What happened in 2001?


    The common assumption that underlies all stories about Russian deployment of TNW somewhere close to NATO is that the new land-based tactical missile Iskander is nuclear. Indeed, in the past the Soviet Union (same as the United States) deployed nuclear warheads on everything that could carry them. This is hardly the case today – in the United States, obviously (in fact, some systems that used to carry nuclear weapons in the past are being or will be converted for conventional roles) and, increasingly, for Russia. Moscow has been saying all along – and starting with the 2000 Military Doctrine this has been official policy – that it intends to develop long-range high-precision capability.

    Assumption that Iskanders runs against a statement, in 2007, of the Chief of the 12th GUMO Verkhovtsev that Ground Forces no longer have nuclear weapons (see, for example, There is no reason to doubt this statement.


    In fact, conventional Iskanders neatly fall into the policy Russia has been pursuing for quite some time – development of long-range conventional high-precision capability. It is already deploying long-range conventional ALCM X-555 (a version of the 1980s nuclear ALCM X-55) and is working on other systems. To understand the logic behind the deployment of Iskanders in Kaliningrad oblast – a plan that has been canceled recently – is easy. There is considerable concern among the Russian military about the vulnerability of St. Petersburg to a NATO airstrike: from the Baltic states or from Poland it would take perhaps 10 minutes or less. From Kaliningrad, Iskanders could cover almost the entire Poland and almost the entire Baltic states.

    That deployment was canceled because Moscow fell into its own trap – to rationalize it in terms of a response, it was linked to the deployment of GBIs in Poland that was planned under George W. Bush. When Obama canceled that plan, the Russian plan to deploy Iskanders was canceled as well: it appears that Moscow simply did not expect Washington’s more conciliatory move.

    Hence, the second-best location near Estonia (at least, this is what was reported in the media). It covers NATO infrastructure in the Baltic states, but leaves Poland outside the range.

    Both the old and especially the new location provide an indirect evidence that nuclear warheads are simply not part of the game – it would have been irrational to use nuclear weapons so close to one’s own territory.


    There is, indeed, a potentially significant number of non-strategic nuclear weapons close to NATO territory, but they have not moved anywhere because they are already very close – the weapons of the Northern Fleet, whose bases are just across the border from Norway. The Russian Navy has been saying all along – and very publicly – that they want to preserve the non-strategic nuclear capability because they cannot face U.S. Navy without it. Reportedly, weapons are kept at bases and Russian sailors train to load them on ships and subs.

    It is important to note that this is not about strikes against Norway itself and perhaps not about strikes against land targets even (although that capability probably exists as well) – at least all public statements of Russian Navy leaders point at a different mission. Given the wide use of sea-based high-precision conventional assets from submarines and aircraft carriers during both Gulf wars, it is clear what the Russians have in mind.

    Close look suggests that Navy is the only or at least the strongest supporter of TNW within the Russian military (see two CNS papers on TNW published in 2009 at The rest do not really care about them and, it seems, could “sell” them for the right price.

    This has also been a source of a serious disagreement on whether Russia lives up to its PNI obligations (not that Moscow treats them as truly obligatory) – according to one interpretation, it implemented the promise to move naval TNW to “central storage facilities” because storages at bases are controlled by the 12th GUMO and are central in the administrative sense. U.S., in contrast, has meant geographically central.

    Finally, TNW at the Northern Fleet bases are the primary reason why Russia is likely to flatly reject all NATO proposals to move TNW away from NATO – in that case, the Navy would be deprived of that asset.


    To me, the recent leak is just another repetition of the 2001 Kaliningrad story – a story that has very short life span, but can do damage in that short time. My detailed account of the old story can be found in Jane’s Defense Weekly, January 31, 2001.

    The scenario is exactly the same: there is some deployment; information is very scant, but it is announced to involve nuclear weapons; a month later no one cares; even later it turns out nothing nuclear-related took place. But no one cares because it was intended as a short-lived sensation with a very specific purpose in mind.

    Back then, it became known that Russia was moving warheads for Tochka-U missiles (120 km range) to Kaliningrad oblast. Washington Times declared these to be nuclear. They also publicized frightening information that Russia had just started to flight-test Tochkas. The latter information clearly came from Poland – indeed, the Russians started to fly Tochkas at a test range close to Polish border, but no one cared to mention that the same missiles had been flown for years at a different test range, close to Lithuania, and Lithuanians were very well aware of that and were even invited to military exercises.

    In any event, the story died very quickly. This kind of sensationalism could be expected from WT, but from WSJ? This is a truly new development.

  5. George William Herbert (History)

    I’m not sure why one would connect new tests with a Iskander; the payload volume and weight of that missile are sufficient to fit several of their existing warheads. No need for them to make a new design for it.

    • Nikolai Sokov (History)

      There isn’t a connection, but if one believes Russia is working on a new warhead and there is a new delivery system, it is easy to make the connection. This is a standard Cold War assumption; this style of thinking has proven wrong more often than right, but it is still popular.

  6. P.E.T (History)

    I’m putting my trust in America – not Putin & the most corrupt Government in the world.!

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Of course, the problem is that the USG is divided. So that doesn’t tell me which part to trust.

  7. P.E.T. (History)

    “Why doesn’t Mitt Romney go to Moscow and hammer out a tacnuke treaty that he obviously wants so badly?”

    Because, given the chance America would rather bust Putin in the chops!!!!!

    Got it – sweetie cakes?

  8. P.E.T. (History)

    “Of course, the problem is that the USG is divided. So that doesn’t tell me which part to trust.”

    Well, in your case that’s not really an issue – or do we need research the past posts?

    • Anon (History)
    • FSB (History)

      70% of Americans want ratification of New START

      “The poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans say the Senate should ratify a nuclear arms treaty that the president recently signed with Russia. Seven in ten say the pact, which would reduce both countries’ nuclear stockpiles, should be approved by senators. “

  9. David E. Hoffman (History)

    Just to add one point to Jeffrey’s excellent post, the PNIs were never subject to verification. NRDC made an effort to engage the Russians on verification in the early 1990s but it went nowhere. So, although Gorbachev and Bush made pledges, there was no legal obligation or treaty to codify them. Another example of the value and important of verification.

    • Nikolai Sokov (History)

      In October 1991 Gorbachev, together with his response to Bush PNI, proposed talks on a legally binding verifiable treaty on TNW. Unfortunately, Bush said no. Rumor was, it was US Navy that objected because they were reluctant to accept on-site inspections at ships and subs.

    • Scott Monje (History)

      And the PNI model of parallel, unilateral statements is how G. W. Bush wanted to handle SORT. The Treaty of Moscow, thin as it is, came about only at the insistence of the Russians.

  10. FSB (History)

    btw, searchable wikileaks index:

  11. shaheen (History)

    Excellent post. And we get it for free.

    Two points for the discussion on Iskander:

    1. In 2000-2001, when pressed hard, Russian officials admitted in official conversations with NATO and with at least one Western government that the Iskander could have a nuclear capability.

    2. It would be interesting to have our missile experts join the conversation. A longstanding question is whether or not the Iskander has been designed to reach beyond 500 kilometers (and with what payload), which would put Moscow in contravention with the INF Treaty.

    On a not-so-unrelated note, I seem to remember from conversations in the last decade with US officials that the hypothesis of Russia’s conduct of hydronuclear tests with the possible goal of testing new concepts of small-yield weapons was widely accepted as credible in the Pentagon.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Yes, I certainly think the Iskander is nuclear-capable.

      As to the hydronuclear tests, as skeptical as I am of the motives of some of the people pushing that hypothesis, I will be the first to admit that I don’t fully understand why the Russians did 85 hydronuclear tests. I don’t think anyone has come up with a convincing explanation for that many.

      Russia’s hydronuclear and subcritical testing clearly needs to be the subject of a detailed data exchange in the context of test-site transparency and confidence-building measures.

      I keep coming back to the same point: Do we think that is more or less likely without New START.

      (I suspect you agree, but I just want to put the argument in context.)

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      For what it’s worth (likely not much), in the late 1980s there was an urban legend circulating in US defense circles that the USSR was working on pulse power sources using itty-bitty nuclear explosions with yields below what the US could reliably reproduce. The application was speculated, faute de mieux, to be some sort of directed energy weapon.

      I was never sure what to make of the UL, though one should remember that Andrey Sakharov and A.I. Pavlovskiy were early enthusiasts of magnetocumulative generators.

  12. Lemon (History)

    As Russia is considered mafia run by the State Department why not commission the mob to cut a deal with them?

  13. MarkoB (History)

    In implications you really need to take on board NATO expansion. What the hawks want is to expand NATO right into the heart of the former Soviet Union and at the same time to express outrage about perfectly rational Russian responses to it. The 1991-92 PNIs on tactical nuclear weapons would have occurred in the context of the pledge made to Moscow, ratted on by Washington, not to expand NATO eastwards. But NATO has expanded both in terms of its geographic scope and in terms of its mission, moving from defence to aggression. Russia’s response has been pretty restrained, especially given the state of its conventional forces, as outlined in this post. The bottom line is that a common security framework for Europe needs to be found that includes Russia rather than excludes it, and that might mean getting rid of NATO not expanding it. The people of Europe would be better off without NATO. How is it possible to have detailed discussion about Russian tactical nuclear weapons in America without even a word being devoted to NATO expansion? As George Orwell would have said “it wouldn’t do” to mention that.

    • FSB (History)

      Spot on.

      As Bacevich says, the US must withdraw from NATO:

    • shaheen (History)

      – Why would NATO be a threat to Russia? Where does the Strategic Concept say that one of NATO’s missions is “aggression”?
      – There has never been a NATO pledge not to enlarge eastward.
      – The NATO Strategic Concept does not describe Russia as a potential enemy; the Russian military doctrine does mention NATO as a potential adversary.
      – There WAS (and remains) a 1997 pledge known as the Three Nos, according to which NATO said it had “no intention, no plan and no reason” to base forces or nuclear weapons on the territory of the former WP members.
      – Why on earth would the hypothetical redeployment of TNW near the borders would be a rational response to a non-existent military threat?
      – There IS a common security framework, made of the OSCE, the CFET, and the Charter of Paris; Russia is not always interested in abiding by their principles (and has “suspended” its implementation of the CFET).

    • anon (History)

      You are right — NATO is obsolete. We should quit NATO

      And take all our bases in Europe, Turkey, the middle east, cuba and beyond with us.

      And forget about the useless anti missile bases in Europe either. No more refueling over European air space or on european air bases, get our fleet out of the middle east, get all our foreign troops back in the US, stop supplying arms to Israel and other tinderboxes around the world.

      The world would then be a far safer place.

      Guess what? There would be less terrorism also. And US would have $.

    • kme (History)

      shaheen: NATO is a threat to Russia simply because it is a large foreign military alliance with no geographic barriers between it and the Russian heartland. The permanent threat to Russia is invasion from the West – it has been so for much longer than NATO has been around. The name, intentions, pledges and so forth ultimately matter very little in the analysis.

  14. bradley laing (History)


    —So, does that fact the ICBMs can hit the Russian Federation from well outside of Europe, in about “30 MInutes or less,” make Russians want to rethink the definition of “invasion”?

    Who still wants a “geographic barrier,” when the U.S. could destroy Russia by just nuking itself and letting Nuclear Winter wreck all life North of the Eqautor?

  15. Miles Pomper (History)

    I would note that this document recently released by Wikileaks mentions Polish FM Sikorski suggesting to Undersecretary fo State Ellen Tauscher that two countries conduct a joint intelligence assessment of whether there are in fact TNW in Kaliningrad….