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Analysis | November 28, 2018

Putin’s Remarks on Use of Nuclear Weapons Are Confusing, But Unlikely to Constitute a Shift in Nuclear Posture

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eschatological talk of nuclear Armageddon at this year’s Valdai forum has stirred up heated debates on how well his description of Russia’s potential use of nuclear weapons matches the country’s official military doctrine. One commentator concluded that “Putin clearly doesn’t put much stock even in rules that he wrote himself,” while another accused him of lying that the Russian military doctrine does not provide for the possibility of a first nuclear strike. However, a close look at Putin’s Oct. 18 remarks and Russia’s 2014 military doctrine reveals that, while Putin deviated from the language in the doctrine, he did not lie on the first use issue. Nor did he seem to be hinting at a shift in Russia’s nuclear posture. More likely, he was signaling to Washington that the existing nuclear arms control treaties need to remain in place for the sake of ensuring strategic stability in the U.S.-Russian nuclear dyad and avoiding an accidental war between the two countries.

First, about the supposed lie: In her Oct. 19 take on Putin’s Oct. 18 remarks, New Yorker columnist Masha Gessen claimed that the Russian leader supposedly insisted at the Valdai forum that Russia’s 2014 military doctrine does not...

Analysis | November 27, 2018

Why Putin Is Pressuring Ukraine

What Russia has been doing in the Sea of Azov over the past few months is to push for the creation of a new normal.
Event | December 04, 2018

25th Anniversary of the Russian Constitution

Join the Wilson Center for a discussion on the Russian constitution. This panel will discuss the controversial origins of the Russian constitution, its guiding principles and how it has entered into and influenced Russian law for the past 25 years.