The Ukraine conflict isn’t the only thing raising concerns about a resurgent Russia. James Inhofe is even more worried about Putin’s efforts to revitalize and upgrade Russia’s nuke program:
Russia deploys aircraft and submarines armed with cruise missiles around the world that already threaten our allies. But air and submarine bases can be targeted and destroyed by the U.S. military in the event of a confrontation. A mobile GLCM [ground-launched cruise missile], on the other hand, is much harder to find. General Philip M. Breedlove, the senior NATO commander, has said that this new weapon is “absolutely a tool that will have to be dealt with.”
Strategically, the deployment of a nuclear-armed GLCM further increases the disparity in regional nuclear forces between Russia and NATO, which could weaken alliance deterrence and assurance calculations. Russia currently enjoys about a 10-to-1 advantage over NATO in nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe. It provides Russia a counterbalance to those countries near Russia that are developing intermediate-range nuclear forces and, in some cases, long-range conventional strike capabilities, such as China. Russia also feels that GLCM capabilities compensate for shortcomings in Russia’s conventional forces.
Jeffrey Lewis also catches Putin talking nukes:
Putin was holding court at the Seliger 2014 National Youth Forum, which attracted some 800 of the country’s young teachers and postgrads, when an attendee asked the Russian president about the role of “historical memory” in Russian foreign policy. Putin decided to point out that Russia’s enemies should be careful, and then he got to the good part: “Let me remind you that Russia is one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers. These are not just words — this is the reality. What’s more, we are strengthening our nuclear deterrent capability and developing our armed forces.”
Hey, the more you know, right?
Earlier in the month, Putin had already promised to surprise the West with new nuclear weapons systems. “Some things have already been disclosed; say in the area of strategic offensive arms, I mean nuclear deterrence forces,” Putin explained. “Some information remains secret, but we will disclose it when the time comes. We are working hard, and our engineers, researchers and workers are putting a lot of effort into it.”