On June 13, 2018, the Washington Post published an original piece by Paul Sonne that describes America’s potential use of the low-yield nuclear warheads that are to be installed on the future US B-61-12 nuclear bombs, as well as on the ballistic missiles carried by the Trident II submarines in the form of W76-2 warheads, in accordance with Washington’s 2018 nuclear doctrine.
The article claims that the introduction of low-yield warheads and the idea of their potential use is being justified by the Pentagon as necessary due to the fact that Russia is allegedly prepared to use similar warheads against NATO countries, based on that nation’s current nuclear doctrine and because a purported strategy of “escalate to de-escalate” has apparently been “approved” by Moscow.
It should be kept in mind that the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, which has sections covering the potential use of nuclear weapons, says nothing about the power of the nuclear weapons that might be utilized, nor is there any mention of warheads with either high or “low” yields in TNT equivalents. Those sections of the official doctrine do not even categorize Russian nuclear weapons into strategic vs. tactical varieties.
Only one term is specified in Russia’s military and strategic posture: “nuclear weapons.” And only two circumstances are listed as a basis for their potential use: the first — only in response to the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against the Russian Federation and/or its allies; and the second — in the event of aggression against Russia that employs conventional weapons to the point that “the very existence of the state is threatened.” In other words, only reciprocal actions are permitted in either case.
Nor does the Russian nuclear doctrine list the countries or alliances against which nuclear weapons can be used.
It seems odd that the US still does not understand the basic tenets of Russia’s nuclear posture. And it must be said that this is not the first time that Western analysts have taken such an unprofessional approach. This has become especially glaring in the run-up to the next NATO summit,