Nuclear Issues

627 Items

In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, Russian troops load an Iskander missile as part of drills to train the military for using tactical nuclear weapons at an undisclosed location in Russia

Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Journal Article - International Security

When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Adversary Perceptions of Nuclear No-First-Use Pledges

| Spring 2024

Would the world be safer if the United States pledged to never use nuclear weapons first? Supporters say a credible pledge would strengthen crisis stability, decrease hostility, and bolster nonproliferation and arms control. But reactions to no-first-use pledges by the Soviet Union, China, and India suggest that adversaries perceive pledges as credible only when the political relationship between a state and its adversary is already relatively benign, or when the state’s military has no ability to engage in nuclear first use against the adversary. 

teaser image

Blog Post

Russian Wargame Practicing Tactical Nukes Use Is Warning to West

| May 22, 2024

The Russian defense ministry has just launched a multi-phase exercise near Ukraine meant to prepare its forces for using non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs). In addition to the obvious purpose of preparing Russian troops to use tactical nuclear weapons in battle, the multi-stage exercise is also meant to signal to the West that it should refrain from escalating assistance to Ukraine, as well as to warn the U.S. and its allies that Russia may liberalize its conditions for using nuclear weapons. Finally, the exercise may be evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to retain Valery Gerasimov as head of the General Staff, at least for now.

A picture of a military man standing with a Ukraine flag

alimyakubov|Adobe Stock

Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Ten Answers to Skeptic’s Questions on Ukraine

| Apr. 01, 2024

As I and former colleagues with long experience in Russia speak on the need to support Ukraine, we are repeatedly asked the same skeptical questions. The queries reveal that our assumptions about the facts, nature, and stakes of the war are not universally shared. Here’s my crack at some of the most common questions posed by Ukraine aid skeptics, along with the answers I would offer.

A picture of a three split flags, russia ukraine and the u.s

MasterSergeant | Adobe Stock

Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Russia is Learning that Countries that live in Gas Houses Shouldn’t Throw Drones

| Mar. 25, 2024

Bystander video feeds show scenes of fire and destruction, flames engulfing pipelines and smoke billowing from oil tank farms. In one clip, a twin-tailed aircraft flies slowly over a burning refinery. It loiters, banks, and then plunges precisely into the top of a tall, hydrocarbon filled distillation tower followed by explosions and more fire.

Kyiv is turning the tables on Russia by striking at its hydrocarbon lifeblood. Ukraine’s justified and effective homegrown response to Putin’s two-year campaign of attacks on the nation’s energy infrastructure shows Russia that what goes around comes around.

Report - CNA's Center for Naval Analyses

Russia and the Global Nuclear Order

| March 2024

Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine illuminated the long profound shadow of nuclear weapons over international security. Russia's nuclear threats have rightfully garnered significant attention because of the unfathomable lethality of nuclear weapons. However, the use of such weapons in Ukraine is only one way—albeit the gravest— that Russia could challenge the global nuclear order. Russia's influence extends deep into the very fabric of this order—a system to which it is inextricably bound by Moscow's position in cornerstone institutions such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). From withdrawing from key treaties to stymieing resolutions critical of misconduct, Moscow has demonstrated its ability to challenge the legitimacy, relevance, and interpretations of numerous standards and principles espoused by the West.

U.S. and UK flags

Alex Brandon | AP

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Forging a Democratic Decision Advantage

| October 2023

2023 marked eighty years since the wartime adoption of the BRUSA Agreement between Great Britain and the United States. This 1943 document codified the growing relationship between U.S. and U.K. signals intelligence organizations and included policies governing the exchange of personnel and joint regulations for handling sensitive material. Security directives and protocols aligned operational processes between the democratic governments, setting new cooperative standards for nation-states battling authoritarian regimes.

A photo of Kyiv

Eugene | Unsplash

Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Ukraine’s Big ‘Adventure Capital’ Opportunity

| Oct. 16, 2023

Early after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as Russian troops threatened Kyiv and Russian cruise missiles destroyed targets across the country, Oleksandr Kamyshin, Head of Ukrainian State Railways, received direct customer feedback that the bathrooms at one of his stations were filthy.

Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Consider These 4 Inconvenient Questions as the Ukraine War Moves Forward

| Feb. 22, 2023

Most public discussion this winter reflects a conviction that Ukraine must — and can — win a decisive victory. But what constitutes a win against a country such as Russia? As we consider the road ahead, we cannot escape the brute fact that Putin commands an arsenal of roughly 6,000 nuclear weapons that could kill us all.