Russia’s Assertive Nuclear Policy: The New Normal?

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Russia’s nuclear posture has been the subject of heightened attention since the country’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine. Throughout the crisis it has threatened to escalate, making half-veiled references to its nuclear deterrent. Its verbal taunts continue to be matched by assertive behaviour. Russian nuclear-capable long range capable bombers conduct regular probes of EU and NATO airspace, and recent incidents have suggested that Russian submarines are instructed to operate close to the territorial waters of the United States and the UK States and the UK.

These trends coincide with significant Russian efforts to modernize its nuclear arsenal, and a lessening of Russia’s commitment to disarmament, nuclear safety and arms control. Russia has been accused of violating its Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty obligations through testing of a ground launched cruise missile with a range of more than 500 kilometres. Hopes of a follow-on agreement to the NEW Start Treaty have also faded. Collectively, these developments are raising concerns that Russia’s nuclear policy is moving in a more assertive direction.

This event will bring together two leading experts in the field to evaluate the validity of these concerns, assess the state of Russia’s nuclear posture, and consider the possible trajectories for Moscow’s policy in the coming years. 

Lukasz Kulesa
Lukasz Kulesa is Research Director at the European Leadership Network (ELN). Previously, he worked as the Head of the Non-proliferation and Arms Control Project at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), where he focused on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear disarmament, Russian security policy, nuclear and conventional deterrence, missile defence, and the future of arms control. From 2010–2012 he worked as Deputy Director of the Strategic Analyses Department at the National Security Bureau of Poland, a body providing aid and support to the President of the Republic in executing security and defence tasks. 

Peter Roberts
Peter Roberts is Senior Research Fellow for Sea Power and Maritime Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. He researches a range of subjects from strategy and philosophy, Sea Power, Command and Control, Maritime Studies and Naval Weapons Systems, C4ISR, Military Education and Military use of Cyber Warfare. Mr Roberts retired from the Royal Navy in January 2014 after a career as a Warfare Officer, serving as both a Commanding Officer and National Military Representative in a variety of roles with all three branches of the British Armed forces, the US Coast Guard, US Navy, US Marine Corps and intelligence services from a variety of other nations.

This event will be open to all UK PONI members. A drinks reception will be held following the event. To attend, please register online using the "Book your place" button above. If you have any queries please contact Sabrina Downey, Projects and Events Director, at

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