Russia’s policy on tactical nuclear weapons- EXPLAINED

Russia possesses some tactical nuclear weapons, and amidst the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, fear regarding the use of these weapons is increasing. What is TNW?
Russia’s policy on tactical nuclear weapons
Russia’s policy on tactical nuclear weapons

As Putin and others warn that Russia may be all set to make use of its vast nuclear arsenal in defense, Kyiv fears that these warnings can be proved true anytime.

What are these tactical nuclear weapons that Russia may use?


Defining tactical nuclear weapons is not an easy task. One can understand them better by7 saying that they are dangerous nuclear weapons that can be made to use for tactical profits on the battlefield.


Not many people know the exact quantity of these tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) possessed by Russia. However, it won’t be wrong in any way to say that Russia owns many tactical nuclear weapons, even more than the number owned by the United States and its transatlantic NATO military alliance.


As per the United States' speculation, Russia owns approximately 2,000 working tactical warheads. This is 10 times more than the number owned by Washington.


The warheads can be delivered through a myriad of missiles, gravity bombs, and torpedoes for naval, ground, or air forces.


Russia owns great numerical supremacy in this case as compared to the United States. The latter possesses approximately 200 such tactical weapons. Around 100 of these tactical weapons are at European bases.


Stationed at six air bases across Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, and Turkey; these are 12-ft B61 nuclear bombs having different yields of 0.3 to 170 kilotons.


It was in 1945 when the United States dropped the atomic bombs on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Those atomic bombs were 15 kilotons.

Who may give the launch orders to Russia?


The ultimate decision regarding the usage of nuclear weapons, whether it is strategic or non-strategic, is to be taken by the president, according to the Russian nuclear doctrine.


The “Cheget '' or the nuclear briefcase is always there with the president. Sergei Shoigu, the current Russian defense minister along with Valery Gerasimov, the chief of general staff, is also believed to have such briefcases.


Basically, the briefcase is a communication tool. The tool links the president and the military top brass to rocket forces through the “Kazbek”, the highly secret electronic command-and-control network.


Kazbek supports “Kavkaz”, yet another system.


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The briefcase


The briefcase contains a wide array of buttons. There is a separate section known as the “command”. This section contains two unique buttons. One of them is “white” in color, and it is the “launch” button. The other one is “red” in color, and it represents the “cancel” option.

Moreover, it is said that the briefcase gets activated with a particular flashcard.

In case a nuclear attack was confirmed, Putin could activate the “Dead Hand” or “Perimeter” system of last resort.


The TNW order!


A few key differences differentiate the procedure for ordering a TNW strike from a strategic launch. The supreme secrecy of the nuclear command procedures makes the complete picture hazy regarding the command procedures.


During the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia possessed approximately 22,000 TNWs. On the other hand, the United States held around 11,500 TNWs at that time. 


Most of these weapons are either already dismantled, or are about to be dismantled.


The ones that are not dismantled are stored in around 30 military bases and silos. These are under the control of the 12th Main Directorate of the defense ministry (12th GUMO) led by Igor Kolesnikov.


In order to prepare a TNW strike, Putin may consult with the senior allies from the Russian Security Council prior to giving the orders, through the general staff. 


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