Russia has rehearsed the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a Chinese invasion: FT has learned the details

Russia has been practicing the use of nuclear weapons in case of a Chinese invasion


The 29 secret documents of the Russian army, created between 2008 and 2014, show that the Russian armed forces practiced scenarios for the use of tactical weapons at an early stage of a conflict with a major world power. And they are still relevant to Russian military doctrine, according to experts.

Among the potential adversaries Russia considers, in particular, China.

Contrary to public statements and published doctrines, these documents show that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons under much lower threats to itself than it has ever openly declared.

The "threshold" beyond which Russia is going to use nuclear weapons is defined in the leaked documents as a certain set of factors that "will irreversibly lead to the inability to stop a major enemy aggression" that will create a "critical situation for Russia's state security."

And this, according to the authors of the documents, includes both an enemy invasion of Russian territory and more specific factors, such as the destruction of 20% of Russia's strategic ballistic missile submarines.

The documents containing the exercise materials show that the Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation practiced a number of scenarios to respond to a possible Chinese invasion. This shows how Moscow is using Russia's nuclear capabilities as the basis for its defense policy - and, based on this, how it is preparing troops to launch a first nuclear strike in certain combat conditions.

The publication cites one of the exercises describing a hypothetical Chinese attack as an example. Russia (according to the "legend" of the exercise, the "Northern Federation") launches a tactical nuclear strike to stop the advance of the "South" with a second wave of invasion forces.

"The Commander-in-Chief gave an order ... to use nuclear weapons ... ... in case the enemy deploys second echelon units and threatens to further advance the 'South' in the direction of the main attack," the publication quotes the document.

However, it is not only China that the Russians are planning to respond with nuclear weapons. One of the leaked documents contains a training presentation for officers of the Russian Navy, and it describes broader criteria for a potential nuclear strike, including enemy landings on Russian territory, the defeat of units responsible for protecting border areas, or an imminent enemy attack using conventional weapons.

It is in this presentation that Russia's readiness to use nuclear weapons is stated in the event of "critical losses" of Russian troops that would make it impossible for them to stop a large-scale aggression. Such "critical losses" in Russia include the aforementioned destruction of 20% of strategic ballistic missile submarines, as well as the loss of 30% of nuclear attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields, or the simultaneous destruction of the main and reserve coastal command posts.

According to the Financial Times, the documents show that the Russian military believes that the use of tactical nuclear weapons will help them achieve a wide range of goals, including "deterring states from aggression [...] or escalation of military conflicts," "stopping aggression," preventing defeat and loss of territory by Russian troops, and increasing the effectiveness of the Russian navy.

Earlier, a number of American media outlets reported that Russia allegedly wants to deploy nuclear weapons in space.

Even the White House subsequently responded to them, after Mike Turner, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, publicly called on Congress and President Joe Biden's administration to declassify information about a serious threat to the security of the United States, referring, as journalists suggested, to Russia's intention to launch nuclear weapons into space.

According to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the threat does not concern deployed weapons, but only the potential for their use.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg believes that Russia may launch nuclear weapons into space as early as this year.

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