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Business News/ News / World/  Russia planning nuclear strike to counter 'Chinese invasion'? Report shares details of leaked military files
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Russia planning nuclear strike to counter 'Chinese invasion'? Report shares details of leaked military files

Details of Russian's military documents were shared in the public domain on Wednesday. It included the criteria set by the Russian forces for the use of tactical nuclear weapon.

 Russia's President Vladimir Putin (AFP)Premium
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (AFP)

Classified military documents reportedly show that Russian forces have rehearsed using tactical nuclear weapons during "an early stage of conflict with a major world power" — China.

Financial Times claimed to have access to these "secret" military files through "Western sources". It reveals the criteria set by Russia for the use of nuclear weapons. These files "date back 10 years and more [between 2008 and 2014]". The report cited experts as saying this "cache of 29 secret Russian military files" remains relevant to current Russian military doctrine.

What do the documents reveal?

1.Russia's suspicion on China

The leaked Russian military files include training scenarios for an invasion by China, the Financial Times reported. The defensive plans expose deeply held suspicions of China among Moscow’s security elite, it added.

Russia and China have deepened their partnership over the years. According to the report, Russian President Vladimir Putin had begun forging a cordial relationship with China, "which as early as 2001 included a nuclear no-first-strike agreement".

Even as the two countries became closer, Russia's training materials revealed that the country's eastern military district was rehearsing multiple scenarios depicting a Chinese invasion.

The exercises offer a rare insight into "how it trains forces to be able to carry out a nuclear first strike in some battlefield conditions".

There was one exercise that outlined "a hypothetical attack by China". It noted that Russia could respond with a tactical nuclear strike in order to stop “the South" from advancing with a second wave of invading forces, the Financial Times reported.

It cited the document: "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".

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As per the report, China’s foreign ministry denied there were any grounds for suspicion of Moscow. Meanwhile, the Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment.

2. Lower threshold for a nuclear strike

The classified described a threshold for using tactical nuclear weapons that is lower than Russia has ever publicly admitted, the report cited experts as saying. These documents were reviewed and verified by these experts.

Alexander Gabuev, the director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin, was quoted as saying that documents show that the operational threshold for using nuclear weapons is "pretty low if the desired result can’t be achieved through conventional means".

As per the report, the documents revealed that the threshold as a combination of factors where losses suffered by Russian forces “would irrevocably lead to their failure to stop major enemy aggression", a “critical situation for the state security of Russia".

3. Other criteria for a nuclear strike

The documents also included a separate training presentation for naval officers. It outlined broader criteria for a potential nuclear strike. This included "an enemy landing on Russian territory, the defeat of units responsible for securing border areas, or an imminent enemy attack using conventional weapons".

Other potential conditions included the destruction of 20 percent of Russia’s strategic ballistic missile submarines, 30 percent of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, three or more cruisers, three airfields, or a simultaneous hit on main and reserve coastal command centres.

The tactical nuclear weapons could also be used for "containing states from using aggression...or escalating military conflicts", “stopping aggression", preventing Russian forces from losing battles or territory, and making Russia’s navy “more effective".

4. Nuclear weapons' limited battlefield use

Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons can be delivered by land or sea-launched missiles or aircraft. They are reportedly designed for limited battlefield use in Europe and Asia, as opposed to the larger “strategic" weapons intended to target the US.

Russia and the United States - the big power behind NATO - have the world's largest arsenals of nuclear weapons. President Joe Biden has cautioned that a conflict between Russia and NATO could trigger World War Three. Meanwhile, it is being speculated that Russia is planning to put a nuclear weapon in space.

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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 06:00 PM IST
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