Monday, December 18, 2017

More Bang for the Ruble

Russia will build more nuclear weapons, taking advantage of their ability to use short-range nuclear weapons as strategic weapons against close targets.

While Russia has made a lot of big promises on their navy, those have never panned out and aren't likely to because a blue water navy is a luxury item for the massive land mass that Russia occupies.

But nuclear weapons are another matter and Russia's only way to defend their long borders in the absence of a sizable army and supporting air force:

Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to deploy a total force of 8,000 warheads by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers, according to Pentagon officials.

The 8,000 warheads will include both large strategic warheads and thousands of new low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow's new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict.

In addition to expanding its warheads, Russia also is fortifying underground facilities for command and control during a nuclear conflict.

America needs long-range missiles to strike enemies. Having short-range nukes in America does us no good unless we plan to nuke Canada and Mexico (which we don't, of course). Or unless allies let us deploy nuclear weapons in those countries. Which makes them targets, too. Which helps pro-Russian agitation in those countries to protest the arrival of American nukes intended to deter Russian nukes (the Russians can dust off the Soviet playbook from the Cold War).

Russia needs long-range missiles to hit America, but shorter-range and simpler nuclear missiles work against closer targets around Russia's periphery. So Russia will build a lot more nuclear missiles which won't run afoul of START limits.

While it would have been good to insist on higher numbers for American strategic nuclear weapons in the absence of shorter-range American missiles, I wasn't overly worried about this loophole in the 2010 New START agreement. But I didn't think Russia could really afford to carry this out.

And considering Russia is violating the INF treaty that limits both of our countries' shorter range missiles, the result of a lot of new Russian "tactical" nukes (I'm not sure that people in a city hit by a "tactical" nuke will appreciate the difference from a "strategic" nuke) will be to threaten Europe which will worry if America will risk nuclear war to defend Europeans. Russia will have the ability to nuke Europe without using any of their weapons that threaten and deter America.

Will Britain and France use their small arsenals to strike back at Russia with so many nukes?

And what will China do as the number of Russian nuclear missiles that can reach China proliferate?

If China increases their nukes, America will need more nukes but New START restricts us from reacting to China.

So the result could be a proliferation of modern nuclear-capable shorter range nukes all around the world.

And the really funny part of this is that I have no idea if Russia could even pay to maintain all the nukes they plan to build. But the proliferation result will still be there.

And of course, President Obama still has that Nobel Peace Prize that he got for his potential to stop nuclear proliferation. So we've got that going for us.

UPDATE: Wow! Does Putin have no shame in his lies?

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the United States of plotting to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, which bans short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles.

Or maybe Putin is genuinely confused because he doesn't understand why America would withdraw from the INF treaty when he has simply remained in the treaty and built 4 banned missiles without any problems at all.