Experts Say

The Nuclear Posture Review and Russian ‘De-Escalation:’ A Dangerous Solution to a Nonexistent Problem


February 20, 2018
By Olga Oliker and Andrey Baklitskiy

There is a growing certainty in the West that Russia has adopted an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear strategy, which lowers the bar for nuclear weapons use to a terrifyingly low level. Importantly, it’s referenced as fact in the Trump administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review , which argues that the United States itself therefore needs new low-yield nuclear weapons to deter Russia at lower levels of conflict. But the evidence of a dropped threshold for Russian nuclear employment is weak. Moreover, even if this was Russia’s doctrine, a shift to more American reliance on lower-yield nuclear weapons would be the wrong solution to the problem.
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