Putin Answers: Yes, We Are Thinking of Adopting the US's First Strike DoctrineBy Gretchen Small
Russian President Putin was asked in his Dec. 9 press conference following the Eurasian Economic Union summit, to explain what he meant when he said two days before, that "If Russia does not use nuclear weapons first, it won’t use them second, either." As the reporter for Russia’s Channel One noted, that statement had "caused an uproar." Putin's dramatic reply to the question has yet to receive a serious policy response from Western leaders, or from Western media for that matter. The best that U.S. Secretary of Defense Gen. Lloyd Austin could muster, was a flippant dismissal of Putin's deadly serious discussion of the consequences of the U.S.’s own preemptive nuclear-strike policy and stepped-up military posture to carry out such a strategic strike, as merely "deeply irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling" by the Russians.
The center of Putin's carefully-delivered, long response (available in full on the Kremlin site) was this:
"The United States has this theory of a preventive strike. This is the first point. Now the second point. They are developing a system for a disarming strike. What does that mean? It means striking at control centers with modern high-tech weapons to destroy the opponent’s ability to counterattack, and so on….
"There were plans to deliver a preventive disarming strike with hypersonic weapons. The United States does not have these weapons, but we do. Regarding a disarming strike, perhaps we should think about using the achievements of our US partners and their ideas about how to ensure their own security. We are just thinking about this. No one was shy about discussing it out loud in the past. This is the first point.
"The United States has a theory and even practice. They have the concept of a preventive strike in their strategy and other policy documents. We do not. Our Strategy talks about a retaliatory strike….
"After the early warning system receives a signal indicating a missile attack, hundreds of our missiles are launched and they cannot be stopped. But it is still a retaliatory strike. What does that mean? It means that enemy missile warheads will fall on the territory of the Russian Federation. This cannot be avoided. They will fall anyway. True, nothing will remain of the enemy, because it is impossible to intercept hundreds of missiles. And this is, without a doubt, a potent deterrent.
"But if a potential adversary believes it is possible to use the preventive strike theory, while we do not, this still makes us think about the threat that such ideas in the sphere of other countries’ defense pose to us. That is all I have to say about that."