By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry has slammed a new nuclear-policy document issued by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on February 2.
The ministry’s February 3 statement said Moscow was “disappointed” with the document, which it characterized as both “confrontational” and “anti-Russian.”
Moscow dismissed the U.S. document as “an unscrupulous attempt to shift onto others one’s own responsibility for the degrading situation in the field of international and regional security.”
The statement particularly condemned the development of low-yield nuclear weapons, which Moscow said can significantly lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and “lead to a nuclear-missile war even in low-intensity conflicts.”
The Russian statement asserted that Moscow was abiding by all its international commitments and said it is a “fraud” to say that Moscow was not interested in reducing nuclear-arms stockpiles.
Leonid Ivashov, former head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international cooperation department, told Interfax that, in light of the U.S. document, Russia should initiate consultations with China on jointly monitoring nuclear forces and studying “ways of responding.”
The U.S. Nuclear Posture Review outlines the Pentagon’s nuclear goals under Trump and is the first time since 2010 that the administration has spelled out how it foresees nuclear threats in the coming decades.
It says Russia must be persuaded that it would face “unacceptably dire costs” if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe.
“This is a response to Russian expansion of their capability and the nature of their strategy and doctrine,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in the 75-page summary of the sweeping review, which also highlights U.S. concerns about North Korea, Iran, and China.
The document specifically points to a Russian doctrine known as “escalate to deescalate,” in which Moscow would use or threaten to use smaller-yield nuclear weapons in a limited conventional conflict in Europe to compel the United States and NATO to back down.
“Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow’s first-use of nuclear weapons,” the review said.
The review recommends a two-step solution.
Modifying “a small number” of existing long-range ballistic missiles carried by Trident strategic submarines to fit them with smaller-yield nuclear warheads would be a first step.
Second, “in the longer term,” a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile would be developed — bringing back a weapon that existed during the Cold War but was retired in 2011 by the Obama administration.
The review also calls North Korea a “clear and grave threat” to the United States and its allies, and warns that any North Korean nuclear attack against the America or its allies would result in “the end of that regime.”