Russia Deploys Ships With Tactical Nuclear Weapons for First Time in 3 Decades: Norwegian Intelligence

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Russia has begun deploying ships armed with tactical nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea for the first time since the Cold War, the Norwegian Intelligence Service said in a report on Feb. 13.

According to the report (pdf), the vessels belong to Russia’s Northern Fleet.

“With weakened conventional capability, the importance of nuclear weapons for Russia has increased significantly,” the report, which was translated by multiple outlets, said. “The Russian strategic and regional deterrent forces have thus become increasingly important for the Russian military power.”

“The key part of the nuclear potential is on the submarines and surface ships of the Northern Fleet,” the Norwegian report said. “Tactical nuclear weapons are a particularly serious threat in several operational scenarios in which NATO countries may be involved.”

The Norwegian intelligence report also noted that ongoing tensions between Russia and the West could further increase Russia’s nuclear threat to NATO, citing the fact that “Russian decisions are characterized by a strong distrust of Western intentions.” It added that a localized conflict could turn into a wider war with “direct military involvement of Russia, the United States, NATO, and Norway.”

Russia Is the ‘Biggest Threat’ to Europe

Additionally, the report noted that Russia will continue to maintain, modernize, and further develop its nuclear arsenal in the coming years.

According to a 2022 report (pdf) by the Congressional Research Service that focused on Russia’s nuclear weapons, doctrine, forces, and modernization, the country’s nuclear forces are made up of both long-range, strategic systems—including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers—and shorter- and medium-range delivery systems.

That report also noted that the Kremlin is swiftly modernizing its nuclear forces and replacing Soviet-era systems with new missiles as well as submarines and aircraft, noting that such weapons are available for use by its naval, tactical air, and missile defense forces.

By Katabella Roberts

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