August 15, 2016
|Russian Nuclear Missile Silo / AP Photo|
Russia is building large numbers of underground nuclear command bunkers in the latest sign Moscow is moving ahead with a major strategic forces modernization program.
U.S. intelligence officials said construction has been underway for several years on “dozens” of underground bunkers in Moscow and around the country.
Disclosure of the underground command bunkers comes as Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, warned recently that Russia has adopted a nuclear use doctrine he called “alarming.”
“It is clear that Russia is modernizing its strategic forces,” Scaparrotti told a conference sponsored by the U.S. Strategic Command.
“Russian doctrine states that tactical nuclear weapons may be used in a conventional response scenario,” Scaparrotti said on July 27. “This is alarming and it underscores why our country’s nuclear forces and NATO’s continues to be a vital component of our deterrence.”
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon nuclear policy official, said Russia’s new national security strategy, which was made public in December, discusses increasing civil defenses against nuclear attack, an indication Moscow is preparing for nuclear war.
“Russia is getting ready for a big war which they assume will go nuclear, with them launching the first attacks,” said Schneider, now with the National Institute for Public Policy, a Virginia-based think tank.
“We are not serious about preparing for a big war, much less a nuclear war,” he added.
Additionally, Russian officials have been issuing nuclear threats.
“A lot of things they say they are doing relate to nuclear threats and nuclear warfighting,” he said. “Active and passive defense were a major Soviet priority and [current Russian leaders] are Soviets in everything but name.”
Russia is engaged in a major buildup of strategic nuclear forces, building new missiles, submarines, and bombers. A State Department report on Russian activities under the New START arms treaty stated in the spring that Moscow added 153 strategic nuclear warheads to its arsenal under the treaty.