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Financial Times: Secret Russian documents reveal when and why Putin would launch nuclear war

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Financial Times: Απορρητα ρωσ&iota ;κα εγγραφα αποκαλyπτουν ποτε και ? ;ικo πoλεμο

The agency brings to light the scenarios considered by the Russian Armed Forces – Targeting China, which appears as the main “threat” from its southern border despite Putin's rapprochement with Xi

A horror movie scenario is revealed through secret Russian files brought to light by the Financial Times which speak of Vladimir Putin's Russia rehearsing for a possible nuclear conflict with a major world power.

Specifically, according to the Financial Times report entitled “Leaked Russian military files reveal the criteria for a nuclear strike”, Moscow has considered the possibility of a nuclear conflict with a possible scenario of an invasion of its territory by China. The classified documents, seen by the Financial Times, outline criteria for using tactical nuclear weapons that are lower than those Russia has ever publicly admitted, according to experts who have reviewed and verified the documents.

The package of documents consists of 29 classified Russian military files compiled between 2008 and 2014, including scenarios for military exercises and the use of nuclear weapons. The criteria for a possible nuclear response range from a hostile invasion of Russian territory to more specific occasions, such as the destruction of 20% of Russia's submarine-based strategic ballistic missiles.

“This is the first time we have seen documents like this to be reported publicly,” said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin. “They show that the threshold for using nuclear weapons is quite low if the desired result cannot be achieved by conventional means,” he emphasizes.

Russia's tactical nuclear weapons, which can be delivered by land- or sea-launched missiles or aircraft, are designed for limited use on the battlefield in Europe and Asia, unlike larger “strategic” weapons intended for to target the US. Modern warheads can still release significantly more energy than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.

Although the files date back more than 10 years, experts say they remain relevant to today's Russian military doctrine. The documents were presented to the FT by Western sources. The defense plans reveal deep-seated suspicion of China among Moscow's security elite, even as Putin began to forge an alliance with Beijing that as early as 2001 included a no-nuclear-first-strike agreement.< /p>

In the years since, Russia and China have deepened their partnership, particularly since Xi Jinping took power in Beijing in 2012. The war in Ukraine cemented Russia's status as a junior partner in their relationship, with China offers Moscow an economic lifeline to help stave off Western sanctions. But even as the countries drew closer, training materials show Russia's eastern military district rehearsed multiple scenarios depicting a Chinese invasion.

The drills offer a rare glimpse into how Russia views its nuclear arsenal as a cornerstone of its defense policy – and how it trains its forces to be able to deliver a nuclear first strike under certain battlefield conditions.

An exercise describing a hypothetical attack by China notes that Russia, dubbed the “Northern Confederation” for the purposes of the war game, could respond with a tactical nuclear strike to stop the “South” from advancing with a second wave of invasion.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Vladimir Putin

“The order has been given by the commander-in-chief… to use nuclear weapons … in case the enemy deploys second group units and the South threatens to attack further in the direction of the main strike,” the document said.

China's foreign ministry denied there were any grounds for suspicion about Moscow. “The Treaty of Good Neighbourhood, Friendship and Cooperation between China and Russia has legally established the concept of eternal friendship and non-hostility between the two countries,” a spokesman said.

“The threat theory has not no base in China and Russia” from the other Putin's spokeswoman. “The main thing is that the limit on the use of nuclear weapons is absolutely transparent and spelled out in the doctrine. Regarding the documents mentioned, we strongly doubt their authenticity,” he said.

A separate training presentation for naval officers, unrelated to the war games in China, outlines broader criteria for a possible nuclear strike, including an enemy landing on Russian soil, the defeat of units responsible for securing border areas or a imminent enemy attack with conventional weapons. The documents summarize a combination of factors where losses suffered by Russian forces “would irreversibly result in their failure to stop a significant enemy attack, a critical situation for Russia's state security.”

The Russia's nuclear arsenal on its territory

Other possible conditions include the destruction of 20% of Russia's strategic submarine ballistic missiles, 30% of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields or a simultaneous strike on primary and reserve coastal command centers.

Russia's military is also expected to be able to use tactical nuclear weapons for a wide range of objectives, such as “deterring states from using aggression […] or escalating military conflicts, or deterring aggression, or preventing the loss of territory by Russian forces and the most effective” operation of the Russian navy”.

Putin said last June that he felt “negative” about using tactical nuclear strikes, but later boasted that Russia has a larger non-strategic arsenal than NATO countries. Putin said last year that Russian nuclear doctrine allows for two possible limits on the use of nuclear weapons: retaliation for a nuclear first strike by an enemy and if “the very existence of Russia as a state is threatened even if conventional weapons are used.”

But Putin himself added that neither criterion was likely to be met and rejected public calls from hardliners to lower the threshold.

The disputed documents reflect patterns seen in exercises the Russian military has been conducting. tactical exercises before and after Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. While Russia's president has the sole authority to launch a nuclear first strike, the low threshold for tactical nuclear use set out in the documents adheres to a doctrine that some Western observers refer to as “escalation for de-escalation”.

Under this strategy, a tactical weapon could be used to prevent Russia from becoming involved in an extended war, particularly one in which the US could intervene. Using what it calls “fear provocation,” Moscow would seek to end the conflict on its own terms by shocking an adversary with the early use of a small nuclear weapon – or securing a settlement by threatening to do so.

Source: 24h.com.cy

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