Washington seeks to justify its policy aimed at lowering the nuclear threshold by accusing Russia of an alleged “aggressive strategy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, commenting on the latest US Nuclear Posture Review.
The US accusations against Moscow set out in the latest Nuclear Posture Review “have nothing do with reality,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday as it expressed its “deep disappointment” with the document. Washington uses its traditional anti-Russian rhetoric to justify its own “large-scale nuclear weapons buildup,” it added.
The US readiness to use its nuclear arsenal against Russia pre-emptively is nothing but an “attempt to question [Moscow’s] right for self-defense against an aggression in a situation that is critical for the very existence of the Russian state,” the statement said.
It adding that Russia’s military doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons only in case of aggression involving the use of weapons of mass destruction or where the existence of the nation is at stake.
Unlike Russia, the US has adopted a very broad and vague definition of situations which allow Washington to use its nuclear arsenal, the ministry warned. The NPR de facto allows the US strategists “to treat almost any use of military force as a reason for carrying out a nuclear strike against those deemed aggressors,” it said.
The US also plans to modernize its nuclear arsenal by developing new, low-power nuclear munitions. The possession of such weapons coupled with a doctrine stating the right to a pre-emptive strike drastically increases the risk of a nuclear war even in “low-intensity conflicts,” the Russian ministry said.
Moscow also expressed its concern over the fact that the US maintains and upgrades its tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, deploying them “in the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders.” It also criticized the practice of the NATO “joint nuclear missions” that allow non-nuclear weapon member states of the Alliance to take part in planning and training in the use of nuclear weapons. This constitutes a “major violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” the statement said.
Nuclear-armed UK allies, namely the UK and France, should be taking part in efforts aimed at nuclear disarmament, the ministry said. It also noted that the US does not even mention its own obligations under the NPT, but instead speaks about the need to “contain” Russia by using the joint nuclear arsenal of all NATO nuclear-armed states.
The ministry described Washington’s accusations as a “dishonest attempt to shift its own culpability for the degradation of… international and regional security” onto others. It also accused Washington of “irresponsible actions” that have led to the “unbalancing of the [international] arms control mechanism.”
The administration of US President Donald Trump released the new Nuclear Posture Review on Friday. The document contains an expansion of scenarios in which nuclear threats would be considered and lists non-nuclear attacks that could be regarded as a sufficient basis for a nuclear response.
The review suggests a hawkish approach to cooperation with Russia over nuclear proliferation. It also accuses Moscow of engaging in a range of “troubling” activities.