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New IISS Report Claims Russian Ready to Use Tactical Nukes

London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies has put out a report which claims that the war in Ukraine has dented Russia’s confidence in its conventional forces and increased the importance to Moscow of non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs) as a means of deterring and defeating NATO in a potential future conflict. This news service has not seen th report yet, but according to Reuters, IISS raised the question of whether Russia might be emboldened to fire a NSNW in the belief that the West lacks the resolve to deliver a nuclear response. “The Russian perception of the lack of credible Western will to use nuclear weapons or to accept casualties in conflict further reinforces Russia’s aggressive NSNW thought and doctrine,” it claimed.

The report apparently is not based on any changes in Russian doctrine or nuclear posture but rather on the debate ongoing among Russian experts about whether Moscow should lower its threshold for nuclear use. It cites Sergei Karaganov for example, who last year called for pre-emptive strikes in Europe in order to intimidate and “sober up” Moscow’s enemies. Russian President Vladimir Putin said “no,” there is no need to change Russian nuclear doctrine, in direct response to Karaganov at the Valdai Club last October, but Reuters neglects to remind its readers of that.

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