Staunton, September 7 – Over the last week, the editors of Moscow’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta” point out in an editorial today, the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces have conducted “two large-scale exercises which in essence reject the well-known thesis that in a nuclear war, there cannot be a victor.”
And that suggests, as the editors put it in the headline of their article, “Russia is preparing for victory in a nuclear war,” a shift that is undoubtedly intended in the first instance to intimidate the West but that represents a dangerous escalation of rhetoric and action in an unstable time (ng.ru/editorial/2015-09-07/2_red.html).
These exercises strongly suggest, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” says that Russian commanders no longer view an exchange of weapons of mass destruction “as the inevitable end of humanity.” And they add: “if that is so, then [the Russian military and Russian political leadership] should tell us that directly.”
Both the size of the exercises – they covered some 20 Russian regions – and their focus – practicing the decontamination of locales hit by chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons – suggest, the editors continue, that Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces are thinking about fighting and winning a nuclear war.
After describing the various units involved and the actions they took, the editors conclude that “in other words, the scenario developed in the maneuvers shows that Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces are preparing to carry out military tasks after an attack by an opponent on our country” involving the use of “nuclear weapons.”
“More than that, they write, what the Russian military is practicing is to launch a counter strike even after such an attack, an action which in the past has been called “’a shot from the grave’” and that many analysts have suggested is an important part of deterrence against a first strike by suggesting that no first attack could prevent a response.