Putin signed the “Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” It hasn’t brought anything really new. It merges many documents into one. Still, the Military Doctrine from 2014 is a far better document. Nevertheless, some points are important to note. This included See below my (poor) translation of the document with the important parts in red and my comments in green.
Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence
1. These principals are a strategic planning document in the field of assuring defense and reflect the official views on the essence of nuclear deterrence, determine which military dangers and threats are to be neutralized, the principles of nuclear deterrence and the conditions which nuclear deterrence is to be applied, and the conditions for employing nuclear weapons.
2. One of the most important defense priorities is to guarantee the deterrence of a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and/or allies. Deterrence is to be achieved by the totality of the military power of the Russian Federation, including nuclear weapons.
3. The state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of nuclear deterrence (hereinafter referred to as the state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence) is a set of coordinated political, military, military-technical, diplomatic, economic, information and other measures implemented by the force and means of nuclear deterrence, to prevent aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.
4. The state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence is defensive in nature. It has the objective of maintaining the potential of nuclear forces at a levet enough to ensure nuclear deterrence, and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, deterring a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, and in the event of a military conflict – preventing the escalation of hostilities and their cessation on conditions acceptable to the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.
5. The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence, the use of which is an extreme and compelled measure. It is making all necessary efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and to prevent the aggravation of interstate relations that could provoke military conflicts, including nuclear ones.
6. The regulatory framework of these Principles is constituted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, generally recognized principles and norms of international law, international treaties of the Russian Federation in the field of defense and arms control, federal constitutional laws, federal laws, other regulatory legal acts and documents regulating defense issues and security.
7. The provisions of these Principles are binding on all federal government bodies, other government bodies and organizations involved in nuclear deterrence.
8. These Fundamentals may be specified depending on external and internal factors affecting the provision of defense.
II. The Essence of Nuclear Deterrence
9. Nuclear deterrence is aimed at ensuring that the potential adversary understands the inevitability of retaliation in the event of an aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.
10. Nuclear deterrence is ensured by the Armed Forces’ combat-ready forces and the bmeans capable of using nuclear weapons to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy in any situation, as well as the willingness and determination of the Russian Federation to use such weapons.
11. Nuclear deterrence is carried out continuously in peacetime, during the period of direct threat of aggression and in wartime, until the start of the use of nuclear weapons.
12. The main military dangers, which, depending on the change in the military-political and strategic situation, can develop into military threats for the Russian Federation (threats of aggression) and which can be neutralized by nuclear deterrence, are:
a) the building up of military capabilities by a potential adversary, including nuclear weapons and systems near the Russian Federation and its allies, including maritime areas;
b) the deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and means, medium- and shorter-range cruise and ballistic missiles, high-precision non-nuclear and hypersonic weapons, shock unmanned aerial vehicles, and direct energy weapons by states that consider the Russian Federation as a potential adversary;
For many years the Russian Armed Forces have been developing both at the doctrinal and the operational level the idea of non-nuclear weapons having the same strategic and tactical effect as nuclear-weapons. Gerasimov have mentioned this issue many times in the last three/four years. The development of the new hypersonic weapons reflects this. There are two issues. First, hypersonic missiles can use plasma stealth to create a cloud of plasma around the missile absorbing any radio waves. This results in the missile being invisible to radars and able to penetrate air defense systems. One example is the Russian 3M22 Tsirkon and the under development BrahMos-II (with India).
Very much of the Soviet programs are still alive. Some time ago, I’ve read a paper called “Weapons of the XXI Century.” Terrifying stuff, including non-lethal biological weapons, earthquakes, radiological weapons, microwaves, and other. Of course, the question is about capacity. Do they have the technological capacity to develop such weapons? Some yes, but still most of Russia’s technology is from Soviet times. It is very much dependent of Western technology. Still, they’re trying and the idea of direct energy weapons has some populararity, since it often appears in doctrinal documents.
c) the creation and deployment in space of missile defense and strike systems;
Reagan’s Star Wars traumatizes them. At the doctrinal level they have been consistently mentioning the outer space as the next warfare frontier.
d) the presence of nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction which can be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, as well as means of delivery of these types of weapons in non-allies states;
e) the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery, technologies and equipment for their manufacture;
f) deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles in the territories of non-nuclear states.
This is a clear message for the Baltic States and Poland. There were some think tanks in Washington flirting with the idea.
13. The Russian Federation carries out nuclear deterrence in relation to individual states and military coalitions (blocs, unions) that consider the Russian Federation as a potential adversary and possess nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction or significant combat potential of general forces.
This is obviously about NATO.
14. In carrying out nuclear deterrence, the Russian Federation takes into account the deployment of a potential adversary’s offensive capabilities on the territories of other states, including cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic aircraft, attack unmanned aerial vehicles, directed energy weapons, anti-missile defense, a warning about an attack with a nuclear missile, nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction that can be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.
15. The principles of nuclear deterrence are:
a) compliance with international arms control obligations;
b) the continuity of measures to ensure nuclear deterrence;
c) the adaptability of nuclear deterrence to military threats;
d) the uncertainty for a potential adversary of the scale, time and place of the possible use of forces and means of nuclear deterrence;
e) centralization of state administration of the activities of federal executive bodies and organizations involved in nuclear deterrence;
Nothing new here, but this is clearly about the National Defense Management Center.
f) the rationality of the structure and composition of the forces and means of nuclear deterrence, as well as their maintenance at a level minimally sufficient to fulfill the tasks;
g) maintaining the constant readiness of the allocated part of the forces and means of nuclear deterrence for combat use.
16. The nuclear deterrence forces of the Russian Federation include land, sea and air-based nuclear forces.
III. Conditions for the Russian Federation to using nuclear weapons:
17. The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation using conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened.
Again the idea of conventional and nuclear weapons having similar strategic and tactical effect.
18. The decision on employing nuclear weapons is taken by the President of the Russian Federation.
19. The conditions determining the possibility of employing nuclear weapons by the Russian Federation are:
a) the receipt of reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;
b) the use by the adversary of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction across the territories of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;
c) the enemy’s impact on critical state or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the failure of which will lead to the disruption of the response of nuclear forces;
d) aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is jeopardized.
20. The President of the Russian Federation may, if necessary, inform the military-political leadership of other states and (or) international organizations of the readiness of the Russian Federation to use nuclear weapons or of the decision to use nuclear weapons, as well as the fact of their use.
IV. Tasks and Functions of the Federal Government Agencies, Other Government Agencies and Organizations for the Implementation of the State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence
21. The President of the Russian Federation exercises general guidance on state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence.
22. The Government of the Russian Federation is developing measures to implement economic policies aimed at maintaining and developing nuclear deterrence facilities, as well as formulating and implementing foreign and information policies in the field of nuclear deterrence.
23. The Security Council of the Russian Federation establishes the main directions of the military policy in the field of nuclear deterrence, and also coordinates the activities of federal executive bodies and organizations involved in the implementation of decisions adopted by the President of the Russian Federation regarding nuclear deterrence.
24. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, through the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, directly plans and conducts organizational and military measures in the field of nuclear deterrence.
Gerasimov is the boss.
25. Other federal executive bodies and organizations participate in the implementation of decisions adopted by the President of the Russian Federation regarding nuclear deterrence, in accordance with their authority.