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New RAND Report Says NATO Vulnerable to Russian Nuclear Weapons

June 24, 2021 (EIRNS)—The RAND Corporation put out a new report, “Competing with Russia Militarily: Implications of Conventional and Nuclear Conflicts,” on June 23, which implies that NATO might lose a nuclear war with Russia. “Although the overall military power of the United States and the NATO alliance vastly outstrips that of Russia, a regional conflict close to Russia’s borders would pose enormous challenges and could result in defeat for the West,” the study says, reports Stars & Stripes. “Any conventional conflict with Russia will have to be fought in a way designed to limit the risk of nuclear escalation, which might constrain NATO from employing its full capabilities,” it said. “Russia’s arsenal of NSNW [non-strategic nuclear weapons] and its potential employment of limited nuclear options also poses a vitally important puzzle for U.S. and NATO officials.”

Stars & Stripes reports that during the Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, was considered sufficient to avoid a conflict, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S.-led NATO alliance has since expanded to incorporate areas previously occupied by, or aligned with, the Soviets, while Russian military positions have mainly been reduced to the homeland. “Although NATO is vulnerable to Russian NSNW attacks ... a NATO attack on Russian territory is liable to be much more escalatory than a Russian attack on targets in a non-nuclear NATO state such as Germany or Italy,” RAND said.

If the U.S. responded to a low-yield nuclear attack on an ally with a nuclear strike on the Russian homeland, Moscow could retaliate with a nuclear strike in the continental U.S., RAND said. As always, the assumption is that Russia would go nuclear first, though there’s no reason to think that this is the only possibility.

“Although at present the Russian government appears to have little appetite to challenge NATO by exploiting this local advantage, the possibility that Russian leaders will be tempted to do so in the future cannot be ruled out,” according to RAND, which said “that limited nuclear warfighting options might appear attractive to Russian decision-makers during an extreme crisis.”

Therefore, RAND proposes, NATO should take steps to make itself less vulnerable to Russian nuclear weapons.

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