Soviet/Russian Strategic Defenses: the Pursuit of Dominance

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


This thesis examines Soviet/Russian strategic defenses. Strategic defenses are an important, although sometimes overlooked, element of the U.S.-Russian strategic balance. Unlike the United States, the Soviet Union emphasized the importance of strategic defense in the nuclear age. Soviet nuclear doctrine centered on a war-fighting/damage-limiting strategy, and strategic defenses were seen as an important component of that strategy. This has not changed in the transformation of the USSR to Russia. The effectiveness of Russia's strategic defenses, despite some cutbacks, may even be increasing in a period of declining U.S. strategic nuclear forces and the pending implementation of the START II Treaty. Russia's continued emphasis on strategic nuclear offensive and defensive forces is a central part of a Russian quest to recapture its lost super-power status. The Russian strategic defense program extends to Russia a greater latitude of action in its efforts to re-integrate a Russian-dominated, Soviet-type state. For many decades the Soviet Union sustained extensive strategic defense forces and Russia has maintained the continuity of a comprehensive and robust strategic defense program.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Philip Richard Waina