The West must be convinced that their policies are reckless and could have consequences, says Sergey Karaganov
Russia should revise its nuclear doctrine and lower its nuclear threshold in order to deter the West from pursuing reckless policies, says former foreign policy adviser to the deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Sergey Karaganov.
The political scientist, who is the honorary member of the presidium of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense policy (SVOP), has in the past repeatedly brought up the issue of nuclear weapons, in a number of articles, and has suggested that Russia should consider the possibility of carrying out preemptive nuclear strikes against targets in Europe at some point.
Karaganov’s controversial suggestions have landed him in hot water, as SVOP members even issued a joint letter this summer “unequivocally condemning” his reasoning and calling it “irresponsible” to assume a nuclear conflict could be limited without spiraling into a global nuclear war, costing millions of lives.
However, in an interview with the Daily Storm news outlet published on Tuesday, Karaganov stated that he is “very pleased” that he initiated the discussion about nuclear weapons. He argued that the mere fact that the question of a preemptive Russian nuclear strike was put on the agenda has already forced Western leaders to “sober up.”
“If before my articles the Americans wrote that Russia would never use nuclear weapons, they soon began to write that they could still use them. And now they write how to avoid the use of nuclear weapons by Russia and how, God forbid, not to lose in the third world war,” Karaganov said.
When asked to explain why there were no talks about using nuclear weapons back in the 1990’s, the political expert explained that Russia at that point was weak and had a false sense that it could merge with the West. “We even tried to join NATO in order to create unified pan-European security,” Karagnov recalled, noting that Moscow’s proposals were all rejected and instead, the US-led bloc chose a path of expansion, undermining Russia’s interests.
After the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and Washington’s exit from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, Karaganov said “everything became clear” to anyone involved in foreign military policy, which was why Russia ultimately decided to start modernizing its strategic weapons systems.
Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to attack Europe; Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured that the country would only resort to nuclear weapons when faced with an existential threat.
According to Russia’s Nuclear Doctrine, the country reserves the right to use its strategic arsenal if it is attacked with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, or if the existence of the state as a whole is threatened with conventional means.
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