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Russia prepares for China's invasion: Military rehearses use of nuclear weapons

Russia prepares for China's invasion: Military rehearses use of nuclear weapons Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The Russian Armed Forces have reportedly rehearsed the early-stage use of tactical nuclear weapons in a conflict scenario with a major global power, according to leaked information from Russian military files outlining preparations for potential Chinese aggression.

A threshold for the implementation of tactical nuclear weapons appears lower than ever publicly acknowledged by Russia. The cache comprises 29 classified Russian military files spanning from 2008 to 2014.

Criteria for potential nuclear responses range from an adversary's invasion of Russian territory to more specific triggers, such as the destruction of 20% of Russian strategic submarines armed with ballistic missiles.

Despite the documents dating back a decade or more, experts assert their relevance to contemporary Russian military doctrine.

Training materials depict scenarios wherein the Russian Eastern Military District simulated various incursions by China. Such exercises offer rare insights into Russia's view of its nuclear arsenal as a cornerstone of defense policy and its readiness to deliver a first nuclear strike under certain combat conditions.

Russian scenarios for nuclear weapon use

One exercise outlining a hypothetical attack by China notes that Russia, dubbed the “Northern Federation” for the purpose of the war game, could respond with a tactical nuclear strike in order to stop “the South” from advancing with a second wave of invading forces.

"The order has been given by the commander-in-chief . . . to use nuclear weapons . . . in the event the enemy deploys second-echelon units and the South threatens to attack further in the direction of the main strike," the document says.

In a separate training presentation for naval officers, unrelated to China, broader criteria for a potential nuclear strike are outlined, including repelling an adversary's landing on Russian territory, targeting units responsible for guarding border areas, or countering an imminent enemy attack with conventional arms.

The threshold is defined as a combination of factors where losses incurred by Russian forces "would irrevocably lead to their failure to stop major enemy aggression," a scenario deemed a "critical situation for the state security of Russia."

Among other potential conditions are the destruction of 20% of strategic ballistic missile submarines, 30% of nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields, or simultaneous strikes on primary and backup coastal command posts.

Russian military personnel are envisaged to use tactical nuclear weapons to achieve a wide range of objectives, including "containing states from using aggression […] or escalating military conflicts," "stopping aggression," preventing loss of battles or territory by Russian forces, and Russian navy more effective.

Threat of deploying nuclear weapons into space

On February 14, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Turner warned of a significant threat to US national security, as intelligence suggests Russia plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed this information, with President Joe Biden instructing his administration to engage in talks with Russia regarding potential tests of nuclear weapons in space.

Later reports indicated that the White House sought secret negotiations with Russia to dissuade the Kremlin from conducting trials of space-based nuclear weaponry.