Russia’s Northern Fleet Deploys Nuclear Weapons for First Time in 30 Years
The vessels of Russia’s Northern Fleet have reportedly been deployed with tactical nuclear weapons on board for the first time in 30 years, according to a report issued on February 13 by the Norwegian Intelligence Service. This marks the first time the modern Russian Federation has gone to sea with nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.
The Norwegian Intelligence Service report noted that the tactical nuclear weapon-armed vessels are a “particularly serious threat”. The intelligence agency added that tactical nuclear weapons represent a grave threat in several operational scenarios in which NATO countries may be involved.
Furthermore, Norway’s intelligence also noted that an escalation of a localized war into a wider conflict involving the Unites States, NATO and Norway cannot be ruled out. This is due to the war in Ukraine, which has diverted military personnel and hardware away from the Arctic and Baltic regions.
The report also states that Russia will maintain, modernize and develop its nuclear arsenal, and that no significant changes in Russian nuclear doctrine are expected in the coming years. This is due to the increased importance of nuclear weapons for Russia now that the nation's defense budget is set to increase by 34 percent in 2023.
The Kremlin has refrained from recent nuclear saber-rattling in rhetoric. Rather than opposing them, former president Dmitri Medvedev and Russian propagandist TV host Vladimir Solovyov have been allowed to publicly advocate for the use of nuclear weapons against NATO. Due to the war in Ukraine, Russia also has an increased need for information about military capacities in Norway and NATO's expansion in the Nordic region, especially pending the accession of Sweden and Finland to the alliance.
Overall, the Norwegian intelligence report notes that Russia will continue to pose a major nuclear threat to NATO and Norway, with tactical nuclear weapons representing a “particularly serious threat” in several operational scenarios.
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