The Russian military is dramatically upgrading and expanding its nuclear arsenal, which includes upgrades to key underground facilities.
Moscow is on pace to deploy 8,000 warheads by 2026, and will modernize deep underground bunkers with an eye towards making them impervious to attack, Pentagon officials have said.
The total number of warheads will include large strategic bombs along with thousands of new, low-yield and very low-yield warheads in a bid to circumvent existing arms treaty limits.
The change in doctrine and deployment is also due to the Kremlin’s new doctrine of deploying nuclear arms earn in any war.
One DoD official told a media outlet that the expansion is alarming and that it shows Russia is angling to opt out of constraints on its nuclear forces under various arms treaties. They include the 2010 New START and 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaties.
Russia has already violated the INF by testing a banned ground-launched cruise missile, a test that has caused the Pentagon to threaten development of its own new intermediate-range missile.
The new assessment also suggests Russia is planning to blend its conventional forces with nuclear forces in future conflicts, further complicating the use of American nuclear arms as a deterrent to warfare.
The new disclosure on Russia’s arms buildup is among some of the details being studied by the Pentagon as part of a major review of U.S. nuclear forces called the Nuclear Posture Review.
The conclusions of the review are expected to be disclosed around the time President Trump delivers his state of union address to a joint session of Congress next month.
Over the summer, President Donald Trump called for increasing the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and modernizing it.
“I want modernization and rehabilitation… It’s got to be in tip top shape,” Trump said of the ageing U.S. arsenal and nuclear forces. [source]
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