Oslo Nuclear Reading Group seminar with Kristin Ven Bruusgaard

In this seminar, we will discuss Kristin Ven Bruusgaard's working paper: "Russia’s nuclear strategy of survival". 

Abstract: How has Russian nuclear strategy changed in the post-Cold War era? This important question remains controversial in the academic literature. In this paper, I draw on a large range of historical and contemporary Russian-language sources to explore how Russian nuclear capabilities, nuclear posture and nuclear declaratory strategy have changed over time. Taken together, these sources paint a very different picture from what is widely believed: that Russian strategy primarily focuses on the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons to exploit an adversary’s unwillingness or inability to match their nuclear escalation. Instead, I show that Russian military and political leaders remain concerned with whether it is possible to control escalation, and that Russian strategy continues to balance the demands of deterring war while preparing to fight such a war, including with nuclear weapons if the existence of the state is under threat and if conventional capabilities are not available. The implication of this finding is that the strategic problem Russia poses to the West is that in large-scale confrontation, Russia promises nuclear use to defend itself in order to survive. This insight raises important theoretical questions about how and whether nuclear weapons use for existential purposes can be deterred. 

Dr. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard has previously been a Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow and a Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS) and a Senior Security Policy Analyst in the Norwegian Armed Forces and a Sergeant/Junior Researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI). She has interned at the Congressional Research Service at the U.S. Library of Congress, at the Norwegian Delegation to the E.U. and at NATO HQ. She holds a Ph.D. in Defence Studies from Kings College London, an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick.


If you would like to participate, and receive the working paper the week in advance, please register here.

Published Nov. 6, 2019 7:29 AM