Nuclear Weapons

   In 1991, the Russian Federation emerged as the legal successor to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), including the defunct nation’s right to possess nuclear weapons under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country had approximately 27,000 nuclear weapons. During the 1990s, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan transferred their weapons to Russia with economic support provided by the United States. All nuclear missiles deployed in the Eastern Bloc or other areas of the former Soviet Union had been relocated to Russia by 1992.
   Today, Russia has more than 6,000 strategic nuclear weapons (primarily intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs) and more than 10,000 nonstrategic nuclear warheads. Washington continues to provide funding to Russia to help it secure its nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to prevent “loose nukes” and chemical and biological weapons from falling into the hands of international terrorists. Despite years of monitoring and improvement of security, there is still intense concern about the safety of the country’s weapons. The unresolved question of the existence of so-called suitcase bombs is particularly worrying, especially after General Aleksandr Lebed publicly stated in the 1990s that Russia was no longer in control of some of these weapons.
   Command and control of Russia’s nuclear weapons is located in Moscow. The Strategic Rocket Forces are a special division of the Russian military dedicated to protecting and deploying nuclear weapons. Russia’s military doctrine permits the limited use of nuclear weapons to protect Russia and its allies—namely, Serbia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan—from political pressure, an assertion that is of deep concern to many in the international community.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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