Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT

Modernization Of Strategic Nuclear Weapons In Russia:
The Emerging New Posture

Nikolai Sokov
Monterey Institute for International Studies

The Context: In Search of a Predictive Paradigm

The analysis of the nuclear debate presented above has inherent limitations. First, the proposed classification, albeit sufficiently accurate for the purposes of this paper, overlooks many potentially significant differences between various experts and organizations that have to be lumped together to achieve a semblance of descriptive order. As noted above, the structure of the debate is not reducible to a simple dichotomy of "good" and "bad," "hawks" and "doves," the proponents and the opponents of START II. Second, the simple classification does not provide an adequate picture of the dynamic of the debate. One needs "objective"40 criteria to understand the preceding evolution and predict its future development: a simple extrapolation of the last five-seven years might be wrong if the process is not linear.

Two variables stand out in the previous section: the perceived utility of nuclear weapons and the perceived level of threat. The first refers to the extent that nuclear weapons are expected to achieve "positive" goals: if nuclear weapons can only threaten "punishment" (i.e. a reactive mission), their utility is assumed to be low, but if they can help solve local conflicts or dissuade the United States from interfering in the Caspian Sea basin, utility is coded as high. The level of threat is more self-explanatory and its coding generally follows the lines in the previous sections (from the West as a friend and ally to the West as an implacable foe bent on eliminating Russia). Graphically, the current debate could be represented as a function of these two variables in the following way:

Picture 1

Picture 1

Of course, this diagram is only an approximation intended to convey the general idea and the author's estimate of the situation; an accurate diagram would require a survey (or, rather, a series of surveys) of the Russian political establishment. Still, it does provide an idea of how the views are distributed across the spectrum. The location of the views represented by the 1993 military doctrine (and, as is now clear, the 1998 doctrine) serves as a point of reference for the rest of the field. The area in the lower-left comer represents the "minimalists," while the upper-right comer is the "maximalists." Of course, the blank spaces are not necessarily empty: there are just too few people whose positions fall there. There are areas of overlap, where positions of individuals and institutions are difficult to distinguish in terms of the two proposed variables, but prescriptions could still differ as a result of affiliation, sources of funding, personal predispositions, etc.

Arrows show the trends of change in the distribution of views over the last seven-ten years. An analysis of publications and interviews suggests that in the late 1980s--early 1990s the distribution was even less even than today. There were three poles located approximately on one line from the lower-left to the upper-right comer. One proceeded from very low utility of nuclear weapons and very low external threat; this position boiled down to existential deterrence, the assumption that even a few nuclear weapons could prevent an all-out war. The other pole united what could be termed unreformed Cold War warriors, who stressed unilateralism and reliance on almost unrestricted nuclear arms buildup. The third, in the middle, were the "classic" Soviet moderate proponents of arms control, who were behind the INF and START I Treaties. They preferred reductions as a way to optimize the nuclear arsenal, regulate arms modernization and deployment, but still remained on the side of rather large stockpiles of weapons.

Since then, the number of proponents of absolutely minimal, existential deterrence has significantly dwindled. Apparently, the biggest change was caused not by a greater belief in the utility of nuclear weapons but rather by disenchantment with the United States, which is often expressed by a popular phrase, "the end of the honeymoon." Probably, the perceived utility of nuclear weapons has increased as well, at least among some erstwhile liberals, primarily as a result of a perceived need for a more credible and robust second strike capability.

The differences between the early 1990s "idealists" and today's "minimalists" boil down to the following: (a) larger estimated minimally sufficient arsenal, (b) lower propensity to make concessions at arms control negotiations, and (c) greater propensity to hedge against possible unpleasant surprises. The first two points simply represent formal attributes of nuclear balance, first and foremost the maintenance of a credible second-strike capability: the current views demand high probability of delivering a significant number of warheads in response to an attack, more or less along McNamara's criteria. The third component is primarily political: even rather liberal experts and politicians are no longer optimistic about relations with the United States.

The evolution of the Cold War warriors depicted in the diagram is not intended to suggest that they have necessarily moderated their views, although some might have. Rather, over time their views have become more diverse and now occupy a larger area. One only has to compare intense, focused criticism of START II in 1992-93 with the proposals advanced today. The limited moderation was a consequence of a clearer understanding of the economic constraints on Russia's ability to modernize and build up its nuclear weapons, and a recognition that the dissolution of the Soviet Union is permanent.

The evolution of the former centrists, which have now become largely extinct, is particularly interesting. It is well known but rarely recognized that a very large part of the Soviet political-military establishment in the mid-1980s favored reduction of nuclear weapons. For a variety of reasons (personal convictions, institutional interests, political expediency) their positions were far from radical. The actual process of arms reductions split this group apart. Some continued the evolution and joined the ranks of a more liberal "minimalist" group. The growing disenchantment of others in the arms reduction process in the late 1980s led them to more hard-line positions.

To a large extent, the evolution of the centrists was caused by the loss of conventional superiority or at least parity with NATO. It was easy to consider deep reduction of nuclear weapons while the Soviet Union possessed sufficient conventional armed forces to support a broad variety of missions. Today, the choice of military instruments is so limited that some centrists no longer consider nuclear arms reduction feasible. Subsequent evolution of the debate is likely to depend on the changing perception of threat. It is formed by many different developments, not necessarily limited to military power. Almost anything can affect the perception of threat: economic sanctions, further enlargement of NATO, Caspian oil pipelines, a new crisis around Iraq, etc. Such events are also subject to interpretation: some will treat them as evidence of growing threat, while others will tend to discount their significance.

In the meantime, the perception of the utility of nuclear weapons is likely to change more slowly since there are fewer reasons to reevaluate the currently held views. After all, people will be dealing with the same amount of information and the same tools for interpreting it. As a result, in the near future polarization is likely to stay and perhaps even increase. The existing groups will consolidate around two different assessments of the level of threat; each group will stretch vertically.

Picture 2

Picture 2

From this line of reasoning it follows that for some time a rather contradictory combination of views might become possible: either perception of immediate threat coupled with perception of low utility of nuclear weapons or, alternatively, perception of low threat coupled with high utility of nuclear weapons. Without doubt, such mixed views will be internally contradictory and will not remain stable for long, making further evolution likely.

By definition, long-term evolution is difficult to predict. Several options seem possible. First, the Russian elite might develop some sort of consensus on their perception of US policy. Recent trends indicate that a mainstream, "hard-headed" position is already emerging, approximately around the views espoused by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. In addition, the growing marginalization of military and political aspects of US-Russian relations could stimulate the emergence of a centrist position as well: the increasingly influential business groups tend to judge these relations by the degree to which they are conducive to business, not by geopolitical schemes. If business is reasonably successful, then geopolitics and ideology will be more or less suppressed. In both cases the groups depicted in the diagram will tend to concentrate around one pole.

Second, if military reform is successful, Russia will come to rely somewhat less on nuclear weapons; accordingly their perceived utility will decrease. This will be a necessarily lengthy process since it involves restructuring, reductions, replacement and education of personnel, modernization of weapons, etc. All of this has to be done under severe financial constraints. Furthermore, in all likelihood the military reform, regardless of its success, will not affect policyrnaking until there is some sort of a "small successful war" (like the US operation in Grenada) to visibly demonstrate that conventional forces could be relied upon for a certain category of contingencies. The second option will help consolidate the elite. If the perception of threat remains constant, there will be two poles gravitating toward the lower left and the upper right corners. If consensus on US-Russian relations emerges, then one pole will emerge. Under any scenario, successful military reform is likely to benefit the "minimalists" more.

Yet another option is continued uncertainty: the distribution of views could remain frozen for a long time and experience only slow consolidation. The most likely result is still the emergence of two opposite poles in the lower left and upper right comers.

Much in the evolution of the debate will depend on economic and political stabilization in Russia. If optimistic forecasts come true, Russia will become more self-confident and its global positions will improve, in particular in such sensitive areas as relations with other new independent states of the former Soviet Union and with Europe. After all, many problems are caused by inadequate competitiveness in international markets, the inability to offer credits (as a rule, export of high-tech products often depends on the ability of the exporting country to offer cheap credits to finance purchases), and the low attraction of Russia's domestic market. An improvement of these three parameters will reduce the sense of dependency and help reduce the perceived external threat.

The United States could do much to shape the development of the debate on nuclear weapons in Russia, even without sacrificing any major policy goals. For example, the US Government could make it clear that the views of Zbignew Brzezinski do not represent official policy. More active pursuit of integration within the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council could also yield significant results. More cautious policy in the Caspian Sea region would help as well, especially if it is "packaged" in terms friendly to Russia and sensitive to Russian concerns (e.g., it would be advisable to avoid proclaiming the region an area of vital US interests, since such declarations are invariably interpreted as hostile). These are only illustrations, of course, since a detailed analysis of possible steps is beyond the scope of this paper.

The Views of the Military Leadership

The current debate has two unique characteristics. One is a curious detachment of the government (meaning first of all the Administration of the President, including the Security Council and the recently deceased Defense Council) and the military leadership from the public debate. Little is said on the matters, which are heatedly discussed by the elite; the process of modernization, reduction and reshaping the arsenal proceeds on its own.

The second characteristic is that the uniformed military is actually playing the "doves:" they support START II and oppose plans for large-scale MIRVing of ICBMs. Only rarely does one see sudden outbursts of emotion, such as Vladimir Dvorkin's recent response to an article by Podberezkin and Surikov.41 The military have not turned into proponents of total and complete nuclear disarmament, but they certainly do not seem to support extreme proposals for a nuclear arms race.

The result is rather unusual. While the political elite appears to move to the right and increasingly embrace the idea of a large, MIRVed nuclear arsenal (funding, of course, is not available, but the attitudes are almost ripe for that), the military's ambitions are more modest. They are more or less comfortable with START II and are very serious about START III, which is certain to confirm a ban on MIRVed ICBMs and will further reduce the Russian force.

Since the government's policy on nuclear weapons is relatively independent from the broader political context, it requires a separate, independent inquiry. This section will attempt to reconstruct the rationales for this policy; a review of the actual modernization programs in the next section will serve as an additional test for the hypotheses about the "real" Russian nuclear doctrine. The detachment, however, is clearly temporary and cannot hold forever. The big question is whether the military would eventually embrace the increasingly popular conservative views or whether the political elite will reconcile itself with the more moderate views of the military. But at the moment the public debate and the official views have to be analyzed separately, even while both are important ingredients of a study that attempts to predict the evolution of the Russian strategic arsenal and doctrine.

It would be easy to explain away the military's moderate position as simply an honest recognition of economic constraints. After ten years of ever-deepening economic crisis, Russia can ill afford the nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union. Indeed, one of the key arguments in favor of the START II Treaty is that deep reductions are the only way to keep the imbalance with the United States within tolerable limits. With or without START II it will have to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 2,000 warheads at best (START II counting rules). If START II is ratified, then the US will be at the 3,500 level, if not--at 7,000-8,000.42

For that reason, Russia kept insisting that the United States agrees to negotiate and preferably sign START III even before START II is ratified, so that the Russian parliament could consider both treaties simultaneously or at least had a clearer picture of the future balance. In the spring of 1997, at the Helsinki summit, the United States made a partial concession by agreeing to establish the overall limit of warheads for START III at the level preferred by Russia. Consultations on the new treaty have begun, and since September 1997 have been very active, but are unlikely to result in a treaty or even assume formal character until START II is ratified.

It remains uncertain, however, whether the United States will actually pursue START III if START II is ratified, or if it will just mark time and put Russia into an awkward position by codifying its inferiority. Theoretically, the talks could continue forever, keeping the United States at the START II level of 3,500, while Russia stays at a much lower level (below 2,000 warheads) in anticipation of a new treaty. To some extent, this uncertainly clouds the START II ratification process.

Economic constraints are hardly the only variable to affect the position of the military. There is a widespread certainty that the United States will significantly reduce its strategic weapons regardless of whether START II is ratified; if this logic is correct, then Russia could MIRV its ICBMs, but the imbalance might still remain within tolerable limits. After all, if there is no START III, then Russia will have 1,500 to 2,000 warheads compared to 3,500 on the US side; if there is no START II, then Russia can have 3,000 to 3,500 warheads (calculation is approximate) to something like 3,500 to 4,500 warheads on the US side. But in the latter case Russia would have MIRVed ICBMs, which are considered a better response to an NMD system.

This means that support of START II is a conscious decision of the military and their policy reflects long-term planning and certain doctrinal innovations. Apparently, this policy is connected first and foremost with the former commander-in-chief of the SRF Igor Sergeev, who was appointed the minister of defense in 1997.

Since his appointment as the SRF commander-in-chief in 1992, Sergeev has become a veritable "nuclear czar," who determines not only the policies of the SRF, but to a large extent the relevant aspects of the policies of the Navy and the Air Force. His close ally is the director of the 4th Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense (the SRF institute) Vladimir Dvorkin.

In what was a unique experience for Russia, Sergeev became the SRF commander as a result of genuine competition, after a special commission interviewed several candidates for the position. Reportedly, the commission was swayed by his response to the question about the impact of a US strategic defense system. Other candidates proposed large-scale MIRVing of ICBMs and abandonment of START II and even START I (in 1992, to some this still seemed feasible), but Sergeev advocated a "qualitative" response, in particular based on enhanced ability of single-warhead ICBMs to penetrate the defense. Sergeev also advocated a faster transition toward a pure second-strike posture to replace the "vstrechno-otvetnyi udar" (launch under attack) strategy.

Subsequent modernization and reduction activities followed Sergeev's initial statement without deviation. It is significant that he has not even once proposed a different course of action (e.g., reject START III, consider MIRVing, etc.), which leads one to conclude that fiscal constraints are not the only motivation behind his behavior. Only recently, as mentioned above, the new SRF commander-in-chief suggested that MIRVing Topol-M was possible, but even then he did not declare it a top priority option.

From the point of view of the military, nuclear weapons will remain the core element in Russia's security. There exists an obvious relationship between the role of nuclear weapons, on the one hand, and Russia's economic potential and its (insufficient) involvement in international security regimes, on the other. Economic weakness means, among other things, weak conventional forces and fewer instruments of influencing international politics. Underdeveloped security regimes mean that Russia lacks effective means of presenting and defending its interests through international institutions, economic and political vulnerability, and reliance on raw power to a greater extent than would have been otherwise necessary.

For the government, nuclear weapons are apparently even more valuable, in a sense. Their impact on Russian domestic and foreign policy has been counterintuitive. They have played a positive role and are likely to continue playing it in the foreseeable future. Their presence has helped to alleviate concerns about the security environment during the difficult transition period. Nuclear weapons probably played a critical role in the (so far) successful transition toward democracy and a market economy: without them, the (perceived) reduction of security could have provoked an arms buildup, requiring concentration of resources and political power, i.e. restoration of an authoritarian regime. But proponents of reforms could always invoke nuclear weapons and claim that security was assured, that armed forces could be reduced and the defense budget cut down--even below the reasonable level. In a sense, the ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons is an inevitable "price" for reforms. Apparently, one can hardly exist without the other.

Taken together, Russian strategic weapons modernization programs fall rather neatly into a certain well-structured and logical framework. The force will be smaller, but will consist of relatively invulnerable weapons systems. The posture is likely to be oriented toward the second-strike strategy meaning that it will be able to "ride out" the first strike of any nuclear power, including the United States, and still be able to inflict unacceptable damage in retaliation.

A particularly advantageous feature of the Russian arsenal will be congruence between the low overall level and low concentration of warheads on delivery vehicles, which will help to increase survivability. As a result, the arsenal will be almost perfect for low levels of nuclear weapons and will fit any probable arms control scheme, whether bilateral with the United States or multilateral, with participation of other nuclear-weapons states.

Funding is the only element missing today from the overall picture. After economic growth resumes (and a period of protracted economic growth might begin as early as this year), the current modernization effort will reacquire common sense: the economically developing Russia will ultimately cease to be the Upper Volta with nuclear weapons, to quote Margaret Thatcher, and then nuclear weapons will look "natural."

Modernization also fits the strategy developed by the former first deputy minister of defense Andrei Kokoshin (who has been promoted since to the secretary of the Security Council). According to Kokoshin, the period of scarcity should be devoted to research and development, with acquisition postponed until approximately 2005. The number of types of weapons (including nuclear) should be reduced. Until 2005, weapons producing plants should be allocated the absolute minimum of contracts, just enough to enable them to survive; plants that are no longer needed to support the reduced armed forces and the relatively fewer types of equipment should be closed or converted.43

In hindsight, it is an ultimate irony that economic and political hardships have probably rendered Russian strategic weapons a service, after all. Russia skipped one or two stages in the modernization plans originally projected by the Soviet Union and, under reasonably favorable economic conditions, by the year 2010 it will have a rather small, fully optimized arsenal, which will consist almost exclusively of the most modern weapons (the word modern applies to delivery vehicles only; the CTBT will limit modernization of warheads).

Modernization programs display a decisive turn toward putting quality of delivery vehicles above quantity and survivable second-strike potential above war-fighting capability. The new weapons will have the following characteristics:

All these characteristics, with the exception of improved accuracy, meet the traditional requirements of a second strike posture. Accuracy is usually considered a property of war fighting, since the so-called countervalue strike (the threat of “punishment” through elimination of cities) does not require high accuracy. Improved accuracy is likely to be a by-product of general improvement of all characteristics of delivery vehicles, however, and apparently cannot be construed to mean that Russia is preparing for more than a pure second strike: this would have required greater numbers and/or heavily MIRVed ICBMs.44

Close attention to qualitative characteristics suggests that the military leadership is not content with simple "existential deterrence," which could be achieved by relatively low quantities of any weapons systems and would have required maintenance of the existing types instead of creation of new ones. The goal is, rather, to maintain a robust reliable second-strike arsenal capable of delivering a rather large number of warheads under the worst (or realistically bad) circumstances. The realistically bad circumstances probably include a first US strike and the ability to "ride it out." In any event, this interpretation comfortably explains the absolute majority of data on modernization programs.

In one of the very few public statements on the subject, the first deputy minister of defense Nikolai Mikhailov (he replaced Kokoshin after the latter moved to the Defense and then the Security Council) stated that deterrence should be ensured not by the quantity of warheads but by guaranteed delivery of warheads to the territory of the aggressor: “At the forefront here are the qualitative factors, rather than quantitative ones.” The goal of the defense ministry, according to Mikhailov, is to retain a reliable deterrent while simultaneously reducing the number of both delivery vehicles and warheads. This would require, among other things, a new technological level of delivery vehicles and warheads, as well as of information, command and control systems.45 Dvorkin, in the above-mentioned letter, confirmed that the military leadership46 did not consider it wise to retain old-type MIRVed ICBMs (as Podberezkin and Surikov proposed) simply because their 1970s technology was hopelessly outdated.

The attention to the qualitative parameters has a number of positive implications for the strategic balance and arms control. First of all, the requirements of numerical parity could be further relaxed. Exact parity has never been achievable, nor vital. It was, to a large extent, a political requirement, while in strictly military terms it was, as one analyst put it, “the roughest indicator of the strategic balance.”47 The stability of the balance always depended on qualitative characteristics of weapons systems. The purposeful creation of a reliable second-strike capability, which stresses survivability, makes parity even less relevant. Russia will be truly able to abandon it (of course, if the domestic political scene permits it) and feel reasonably comfortable under a quite significant disparity. Of course, numbers will continue to matter--no one suggests they will not--but less than ever before.

Second, a combination of survivability and penetrability eases the impact of national missile defense. Survivability means that more delivery vehicles will survive the first strike to be used in retaliation, and penetrability means that more of those will be able to deliver warheads. As a result, the pressure to counter NMD deployment with additional deployment of offensive weapons and MIRVing would decrease. As in the previous case, the NMD problem will not disappear completely: at a certain level of offensive arms and certain effectiveness of defense it will reemerge, but the elasticity of the balance will increase, and the ABM Treaty, including the issue of ABM demarcation, will not be as serious an impediment to nuclear arms reduction as in the past.

Still, major uncertainties and unsolved problems will exist even when the transition to the new posture has been completed. First, it is unclear if the second strike capability will continue to exist under the combined impact of numerical imbalance and an NMD system. The positive implications described above treated the two separately; taken together, they might substantially affect the calculations. It is likely that this uncertainty was behind the statement of the current SRF commander-in-chief Yakovlev about the possibility of MIRVing Topol-M.

Second, even a very reliable second strike capability might not be enough to ensure security. At least, under the NSC-68 criteria further elaborated in the subsequent decades (and still to a large extent guiding the thinking on nuclear weapons), reliable nuclear deterrence requires the maintenance of strong conventional deterrence in parallel. Thus, the current approach of the Russian military, i.e. reliance on nuclear weapons as the main provider of security, is a rather big gamble. After all, nuclear weapons are a means of last resort, and if confronted with a choice between a relatively limited concession and the use of nuclear weapons, Russia might choose the first.

Tactical nuclear weapons are supposed to compensate for that problem, but they are still nuclear weapons and carry with them all the associated limitations. The self-imposed restrictions on who could be targeted with nuclear weapons (the negative guarantees, which were confirmed in the military doctrine) exacerbate the problem further: since Russia cannot threaten certain categories of states with nuclear weapons, nuclear deterrence works only weakly against the rest.

Let us consider, as an example, the so-called Southern Flank, the states to the south of Russia. Only Turkey in that region falls under the first use provision, since it is formally allied with a nuclear power, the United States. All others are formally non-nuclear, and the use of nuclear weapons cannot be convincingly invoked. Even Pakistan, which is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons and is viewed as generally unfriendly to Russia (primarily because of its role in Afghanistan and the support of the Taliban movement) presents problems because threatening the use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan would amount to recognition of its nuclear status. Without doubt, the specter of the use of nuclear weapons is still present regardless of anything, but its credibility and thus the utility of threat should be judged as low.

The same problems apply to Europe, the region which seems to have become the focal point of worries for Russian strategic planners. Armed conflicts there seem infeasible today, but if they emerge (e.g., as a result of an attempt to challenge the existing borders), Russia would still face a choice between the use of nuclear weapons over a relatively small issue and surrendering its position. Again, the credibility of the threat should be judged as low.

Of course, it is possible that vagueness is intentional and should help to contain any, no matter how limited, military clash or provocation. After all, if there exists even a miniscule chance of escalation to the nuclear level, no NATO country would think about challenging Russia; at least this follows from a Schelling-like analysis which is popular in Russia. Still, these calculations are rather shaky, and the probability of benefits and harm appears equal.48

These problems point at an important conclusion: the current degree of reliance on nuclear weapons is temporary. They cannot fully substitute for modernization of conventional armed forces. This area lies outside the purview of this paper, and it is sufficient to note that the same logic is likely to be applied to strategic weapons. This means putting quality above quantity: the troops will be better suited for the types of conflicts that are anticipated as most likely, conventional weapons will be "smarter," etc. In other words, a return to the Soviet-type army is hardly possible.49

Comprehensive military reform will take a long time. So far, one can guess only the broad contours. The outline of the future strategic posture is, in contrast, more or less clear. The modernization programs, taken together with the reduction of weapons and the position at arms control negotiations, suggest that the goal is close to what in the 1980s was often called "defensive defense"--a posture defined by a fine balance between the ability to defend and inability to attack. At the same time, the likely direction of further development is hardly toward "existential deterrence:" the current plans stress reliable second-strike capability measured in probably two or three hundred warheads. Still, even that arsenal will not be suitable for a first strike, and in this sense will conform to "defensive defense." It will also provide significant (but not unlimited) flexibility in terms of numerical imbalance and resistance to the impact of a large-scale defense system.

Whether these plans will be implemented remains to be seen. As noted above, there are major uncertainties directly related to the planned posture and the level of credibility of nuclear retaliation. There are also significant domestic constraints, which might affect the preferences of the military. Finally, there is a larger international context to keep in mind, in particular the perception of external threat, which could emerge from economic and political conflicts rather than from the more traditional military challenges.

In spite of major conceptual uncertainties, Russia is definitely bent on keeping its nuclear weapons and even modernizing them. This is natural: historically, nuclear weapons appeared first and only then the conceptual basis for them was invented to suit the already existing systems.50 The practical impact of these conceptual uncertainties is that in the absence of a clearly defined role, the benchmark for nuclear planning remains the US-Russian nuclear balance. The fact that these two countries have the largest arsenals appears to be only a superfluous reason, a convenient habitual way to rationalize certain established methods of planning. Deep under it hides what is probably the real rationale--the absence of a widely accepted hypothesis about the missions of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War world.


40. For the purposes of this paper, "objective" means exogenous criteria, i.e. not derived from the phenomenon under inquiry. It would be pointless to take position on START II or MIRVing as such criteria, since these issues are an integral part of the debate and could change over time: if START II is ratified, the debate would not stop nor would it stop if Russia returns to MIRVed ICBMs. In either case new issues would come to the fore. In this sense. START II and MIRVing are the endogenous criteria and cannot serve as a basis for a predictive framework. An example of endogenous criteria is Jack Snyder's treatment of interest groups' impact on foreign policy (Jack Snyder, Myths of Empire (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1992)). In each country case, Snyder found groups, which influenced foreign policy, but each time the type of groups was different: economy-based, ideology-based, social stratum-based, etc. Apparently, he needed criteria not directly related to the cases under consideration, for example, derived from the social structure of any society (economy-based interest groups) or of a particular type of societies (totalitarian, democratic, etc.). This would make a comparison across cases more rigorous.

41. Vladimir Dvorkin, "O Polze Diskussii po Povodu Dogovora SNV-2" (On the Benefits of Debates over the START II Treaty), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 27, 1998, p. 7.

42. START I provides for special accounting rules for the weapons of heavy bombers: heavy bombers with short-range nuclear weapons count as one warhead against the 6,000 ceiling regardless of the actual number of weapons, while each heavy bomber with long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) counts as ten warheads against the 6,000 ceiling regardless of their actual number. As a result, even while staying within the START I aggregate limit for warheads, the United States will have more actual warheads than attributed. These special rules were revised in START II.

43. See, for example, an interview with Andrei Kokoshin by RIA-Novosti, February 27, 1997. A similar plan was developed by the Defense Council: See Petr Pavlidi, "Zamysel Apparata Soveta Oborony" (The Plan of the Defense Council's Staff), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 22, 1997, p. 5. Similar views were expressed in Igor Sergeev's interview to Izvestiya in July 1997, after he had already become the minister of defense (Izvestiya, July 22, 1997).

44. Theoretically, one could imagine, however, that accuracy might become valuable under the conditions of very substantial imbalance, when the other side has enough weapons for a "third" strike (a first strike by side A, the second strike by side B, and then one more, third, strike by side A). In this case, it might become necessary to destroy command and control centers to prevent the third strike. Of course, this line of reasoning represents the kind of formal models that were fashionable in the 1970s and the 1980s, rather than realistic planning.

45. Interfax, February 4, 1998.

46. Vladimir Dvorkin, "O Polze Diskussii po Povodu Dogovora SNV-2" (On the Benefits of Discussion on the START II Treaty), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 27, 1998, p. 7.

47. Interview with a Soviet military analyst given on the condition of anonymity.

48. For elaboration of the problems concerning the threat by nuclear weapons toward non-nuclear states see Nikolai Sokov, "Tactical Nuclear Weapons Elimination: Next Step for Arms Control," The Nonproliferation Review, 4:2, pp. 17-27.On the pitfalls of "playing" with intended ambiguity see also Stephen Schwartz, "Miscalculated Ambiguity: US Policy on the Use and Treat of Use of Nuclear Weapons," Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 23 (February 1998): 10-14. The author's logic fully applies to the Russian case.

49. A relatively small, but significant detail is the new structure of the "model" division, which has been formed in the Moscow military district (unable to reform the whole army, the military leadership has chosen a staged approach: one division in each district at a time): currently it has three mechanized infantry and two tank regiments, but ultimately it is supposed to have four mechanized infantry and one tank regiments. The new structure is supposed to better account for the experience of Afghanistan and Chechnya and suit the most likely missions in the future. See Ilya Kedrov, "V Armii Sozdana Diviziya Novogo, Tipa" (A Division of a New Type has been Created in the Army), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 14, 1998, p. 2.

50. The rationale behind tactical nuclear weapons appears to be especially artificial. Its real goal is evidently to find some plausible mission for the already existing class of weapons, which could not be eliminated for bureaucratic and political reasons. For the analysis of the shortcomings of the standard rationale for TNW see Sokov, "Tactical Nuclear Weapons Elimination"...


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