With a new round of nuclear weapons development complete, Russia has officially passed the United States in nuclear weapons capability for the first time in 40 years. How are they getting away with it?
Russia has been smart about their growing nuclear weapons inventory, instead of stockpiling large amounts of strategic nuclear weapons, which are designed to be used against enemies and to wage war. Russia has instead been stockpiling tactical nuclear weapons, which are designed to be lower yield than their strategic counterparts and used as a defense system. However, there is significant threat of tactical nuclear weapons when used in close range.
Forbes reports that Russia reportedly thinks its tactical nukes are now better than both the U.S. and NATO. NATO member countries have only 260 older tactical weapons. Sited in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey, the U.S. has 200 nuclear bombs with an overall capacity of 18 megatons. France has 60 atomic bombs.
However, those numbers look pale in comparison to the 5,000 nuclear weapons housed inside of Russia. For Russia, it appears the Cold War never ended. In fact, they have slowly been increasing their nuclear stockpile over the years instead of decreasing it like NATO members. As discussed in a report outlined in PRAVDA, Russia has nuclear weapons of different tactical classes, including Iskander warheads and torpedo, aerial, and artillery warheads. The problem is that these “tactical” nuclear warheads are located right next to Europe.
The U.S. only has 300 tactical nuclear warheads, and it would be very difficult for the U.S. to catch up with Russia, as we have destroyed most of our Cold War tactical nuclear missiles, land-based missiles, and sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles. Not to mention all the red tape associated with various treaties we have entered since the Cold War.
The U.S. State Department has admitted that the problem with Russian nuclear weapons exists. On September 1, 2014, the U.S. State Department published a report, in which it was stated that for first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia reached parity with the U.S. in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the U.S., as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles.
With Russian leader Vladimir Putin pushing the limits and refusing to back down from conflicts with Ukraine, it appears that Putin is not going to play by NATO rules. Therefore, where does that leave the U.S. and European countries when it comes to threats posed by Russia? Putin has shown off his power by flying fighter jets over NATO nations, Sweden has claimed they have evidence of a Russian submarine in their waters and Russian warships were stationed just outside of Australian waters during the G20 summit this month.