Russia's Strategic Nuclear Weapons Programs and Their Role in Russian Grand Strategy

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Russia’s current geopolitical state of affairs has produced an increased awareness of security threats that present obstacles for Vladimir Putin and the Russian state. As a result of its perceived vulnerabilities, Russia is using the beginning of the twenty first century as a period to reestablish its superpower status through fifth generation nuclear technology. Given Russia’s geography, history, and the current political climate, and the fact that it possesses the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, there are numerous inherent risks for the West in disparaging Russia as a country incapable of attaining the goals it sets for itself in this century. This thesis first summarizes Russian grand strategy and then links it to the future of Russia’s nuclear weapons programs. It seeks to forecast the role nuclear weapons will serve in restoring Russia’s power and status in the twenty-first century. In short, this is a limited assessment of Russia’s vulnerabilities compared with its realistic capabilities. The overall objective of this thesis is three-fold: first to establish Russia’s grand strategy goals; second, to assess Russia’s strategic weapons programs; and lastly to explore the new ways that nuclear weapons will aid in carrying out Russia’s grand strategy in the twenty-first century.


Russia, grand strategy, nuclear weapons, military doctrine, technology

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Daniel A. Wenk