An Emerging Russian Deterrent Framework?
Based on the evidence, some inferences can be drawn with respect to the evolving Russian deterrent framework in Europe and elsewhere.
For claimed interests, Russia is using the traditional mechanisms of formal alliances, security treaties, and agreements to joint measures to consolidate its relationship with some of the former member states and portions of the USSR. In addition, the so-called Medvedev Doctrine asserts Russian willingness to protect “privileged interests” and Russian citizens in regions where Russia shares particular historical relations. The doctrine gives fuller expression to behaviors exemplified by the long-standing willingness of the Russians to retain troops in the de facto independent Trans-Dniester that has broken away from the Republic of Moldova, as well as in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It also implies a willingness to defend its claimed interests with military force. The phrasing may also be intended to ensure that potential military actions to retain and defend privileged interests can be defined as resisting “aggression” and more broadly to retain privileged interests.
We can have much less certainty in inferences about how possible conflicts might develop and how nuclear weapons might figure in their conduct. On the one hand, there is no question that Russian nuclear forces retain a central mission of deterring nuclear (and prospectively conventional) attack by U.S. or other forces. On the other hand, the Russian military is no longer positioned for immediate contact with the main NATO forces. The immediate line of contact with NATO is confined to the Baltic states on Russia’s border and the isolated Rus-