Although attention is naturally focused on the role of Russia’s conventional forces in the Ukraine conflict , we should not overlook the modernization of the country’s nuclear forces. The last few years has seen Moscow make great progress in stabilizing Russia’s decaying nuclear arsenal. The Russian government considers its nuclear weapons as its best tool of defense, deterrence, and global influence– essential for protecting Russia against external aggression and for preserving its great power status.
Despite recent improvements in Russia’s conventional forces and Russian mastery of the art of non-kinetic hybrid warfare techniques, Moscow continues to invest enormous sums in reviving its nuclear capabilities, which suffered financial and other problems following the end of the Cold War. Nonetheless, Russia’s nuclear buildup will continue to face major challenges in coming years and present risks to other countries.
More from CNAS
CommentaryStrange Debacle: Misadventures In Assessing Russian Military Power
Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine has befuddled most defense analysts and Russia experts....
By Chris Dougherty
CommentarySharper: The Authoritarianism Challenge
Autocratic leadership is on the rise globally. Even in democratic nations, leaders are eroding checks on their power and weakening institutions. The use of illiberal technolog...
By Anna Pederson
CommentaryCan Ukraine’s Military Keep Winning?
Ukraine’s military has undergone a radical transformation over the past eight years, thanks to intensive reorganization and reform efforts and billions of dollars in Western s...
By Margarita "Rita" Konaev & Polina Beliakova
CommentaryIs Russia Better Off Without Putin? The Answer is Changing.
To figure out whether we would be better off without Putin, though, we first need to weigh something else: How would Putin’s departure from power affect Russia? Would a leader...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & Erica Frantz