July 17, 2023

No to a Preventive Nuclear Strike


No to a Preventive Nuclear Strike
Topol-M missile system  Vitaly V. Kuzmin, Wikimedia Commons

Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy members have expressed their opposition to a potential preventive nuclear strike by Russia. In a collective statement titled "On Calls to Unleash a Nuclear War," they emphasize that humanity should never be subjected to blackmail through the use of nuclear weapons.

The document says, "It is extremely irresponsible to believe that a limited nuclear conflict can be managed and prevented from escalating into a global nuclear war." The statement's authors highlight the catastrophic consequences of such a conflict, including the potential destruction of millions of lives in Russia, Europe, China, and the United States. Additionally, they argue that Russia’s sovereignty would be compromised under the pressure exerted by surviving nations from the South.

Established in 1992 as a non-governmental public association, the Council aims to facilitate the development and implementation of strategic concepts for Russia’s overall development, foreign relations, and defense policy. The signatories of the appeal against a preventive strike include politicians, retired military personnel, and professors from prominent Russian universities. Their response comes in light of the increased discussion of a preemptive nuclear strike in Russia, particularly in the context of military setbacks in Ukraine.

According to the authors, such "pseudo-theoretical reasoning" and "emotional statements" are unacceptable, as they contribute to a mindset within a Russian society that could lead to "catastrophic decisions."

However, it is important to note that the Foreign and Defense Policy Council itself does not hold a unified stance on the threat of a nuclear preemptive strike. Sergey Karaganov, one of the council’s founders and a professor at the HSE, diverges from his colleagues and actively advocates for a nuclear strike on Europe, believing it could undermine the West’s resolve.

In recent years, Russian nuclear rhetoric has become more acute. In particular, in 2014, the General Director of the Rossiya Today agency and TV presenter Dmitriy Kiselyov said on his weekly current affairs show that "Russia can turn the United States into radioactive ashes," and, in 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that in a nuclear war Russia's opponents would "die" and Russians would go "straight to heaven."

Since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine, the number of threats of nuclear weapons has only increased. Prominent figures such as former President Dmitriy Medvedev, political talk show host Vladimir Solovyov, and State Duma deputy Andrey Gurulev have all made menacing statements, issuing nuclear threats against Western nations.

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