What purpose do nuclear weapons serve in today’s Russia? More than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians still deploy more than 5,000 warheads on strategic nuclear-weapon systems. Additionally, they might deploy more than 3,000 nonstrategic warheads, and there are as many as 18,000 warheads either in reserve or in a queue awaiting dismantlement. This enormous capability is available to Kremlin leaders, but it is a very good question what they can do with it.

Read this essay from the April 2004 issue of Arms Control Today.