Russia’s Puzzling Saber Rattling

Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and security, said she was “disturbed” by Russia’s recent “nuclear saber rattling,” saying it’s “simply unwarranted and doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.” Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on March 19 said, “We have less nuclear warheads, but the risk of them being used is growing, ” reported Reuters. Ivanov served as Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004 and now leads a Moscow-based, state-run think tank. Gottemoeller told reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that she was “frankly puzzled” by the comments “because we believe that deterrence is stable between our countries.” While the United States has made a point to “de-emphasize the importance of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, Russia’s most recent military doctrine, released last year, places “a major emphasis on nuclear weapons,” she said. However, that does not mean the US should change its policy. Gottemoeller said the US has “a very, very powerful conventional capability deployed world-wide,” and its deterrence strategy is based on those conventional forces, “our very capable command and control system, our ability to defend in some cases missile defense capabilities in limited circumstances, and our nuclear weapons.” She added, “They are all pieces of the puzzle and all add up to a very strong deterrent force. I frankly don’t see any reason why we would re-emphasize nuclear weapons.”