The threat of nuclear war between Russia and the West, long relegated to Cold War history, reappeared last year as the crisis in East-West relations escalated.
Russian strategic bombers now fly long-range patrols near the coast of the US and its NATO allies, while Russian missile tests and military exercises involving simulated use of nuclear weapons raise the specter of nuclear war. The US responds as its defense analysts discuss options for boosting nuclear deterrence in Europe to counter Russian threats.
President Vladimir Putin unambiguously warned the West in August 2014, as the fighting raged in eastern Ukraine, not to forget that "Russia is not to be messed with. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the largest nuclear powers."
All of this has been interpreted in Europe and the US as aggressive posturing intended to intimidate the West. But inside Russia there is a different conversation. In a recent article in the highly regarded Russian defense weekly Voenno-Promyshelnnyi Kuryer (VPK) (Military Industrial Courier), prominent Russian defense expert retired Col. Mikhail Khodarenok draws alarming — for Russia — conclusions about the Russia-NATO military balance and the Russian military's prospects in a hypothetical conflict with the West. ...