Tom O’Connor – May 30, 2017
With at least 7,300 nuclear weapons, Moscow possesses the largest nuclear stockpile of any nation in the world. The U.S. comes in second, with about 7,000, according to a 2016 estimate by the Federation of American Scientists. Both the U.S. and Russia maintain forms of a “launch-under-attack” policy and have not precluded the use of a pre-emptive nuclear strike if they faced an existential threat. The Military Doctrine of Russia, last updated in 2014, says Moscow reserves “the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”
Nikonov cited 400 points of NATO military installations near its borders, some armed with nuclear weapons, and said the West was “not just a force for good,” He claimed one of Russia’s main concerns was a lack of dialogue between Russia and the West, which increased the likelihood of a military conflict. He said U.S. officials were fired for reaching out to Russia, further alienating bilateral relations at a tense time between the two superpowers.