Bogdanov Konstantin
The Military-Strategic Balance in Europe and Limited Nuclear Options
Publication Type:


ISSN 0201-7083

DOI 10.31857/S0201708322070129

Doctrines of limited use of nuclear weapons and related capabilities, including low-yield and precision-guided nuclear weapons systems present an important component of the modern nuclear deterrence. One of the most significant regions for the study of this phenomenon is Europe in which there is an ongoing aggravation of relations between Russia and NATO, the leading players in the ‘nuclear super-system.’ The spread of politicised opportunistic narratives such as ‘escalate to de-escalate,’ used to explain only the part of the picture of limited nuclear options, obscures the nature of the problem and does not allow it to be properly addressed in the context of reducing the risks of nuclear conflict and further development of arms control. It seems necessary to develop a systematic study of the emergence and transformation of the ideas of limited use of nuclear weapons in the European theater in order to work properly with the issue. In the process of this study, the key factors influencing the preferred choice of such doctrines were highlighted, related to the dynamics of conventional balances between potential opponents. The factors pushing countries to adopt limited scenarios are identified, and the main risks associated with this combination of doctrines and nuclear capabilities are outlined. The author suggests a set of possible measures to mitigate these risks, relating both to the sphere of strategic dialogue and to specific arms control solutions.


Keywords: European theatre | arms control | escalation control | limited nuclear options ‘escalate to de-escalate’ | nuclear strategy |

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