October 31, 2023

New CNAS Report: Assessing the Evolving Russian Nuclear Threat

Washington, October 31, 2023 — Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, Assessing the Evolving Russian Nuclear Threat, by authors Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Michael Kofman, Nicholas Lokker, and Heli Hautala.

The report examines the evolution of Russia’s approach to nuclear weapons in the aftermath of its invasion of Ukraine. The report suggests that Russia is likely to adopt a more assertive nuclear force posture in order to signal that will no longer be a status quo power. The authors also raise concerns about the potential early use of nuclear weapons in a conflict with NATO and the risk of unintended escalation. Moreover, the report highlights the shifts in Russian public perceptions of acceptable nuclear use and the diminishing prospects for nuclear arms control. The report concludes by forecasting Russia’s potential actions in the nuclear domains and assessing the implications for the U.S. and NATO.

The authors assess that “The significant degradation of Russia’s conventional forces in Ukraine combined with sanctions and export controls that will hinder the reconstitution of Russia’s forces will likely mean that the Kremlin will rely more heavily on non-conventional instruments, including nuclear weapons.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with report authors, please contact Alexa Whaley at  awhaley@cnas.org.

Transatlantic Security

Assessing the Evolving Russian Nuclear Threat

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its nuclear rhetoric has become more permissive, more inconsistent, and more instrumental. Russia has also placed greater emphasis on milit...

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  • Andrea Kendall-Taylor

    Senior Fellow and Director, Transatlantic Security Program

    Andrea Kendall-Taylor is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at CNAS. She works on national security challenges facing the United States and Eur...

  • Michael Kofman

    Former Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Michael Kofman serves as a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses' Russia Studies Program, and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Internation...

  • Nicholas Lokker

    Research Associate, Transatlantic Security Program

    Nicholas Lokker is a Research Associate for the Transatlantic Security Program at CNAS. His work explores the development of the political and security order in Europe, focusi...

  • Heli Hautala

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Heli Hautala is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program. She specializes in Northern European security and in Russia. Heli joined the Finnish Foreign S...