The United States fears the trivialization of Russian and Chinese “blackmail to deterrence”

Barely a few days after the start of military operations in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin ordered, in a highly publicized manner, his Chief of Staff and his Minister of Defense to put Russian strategic forces on high alert, in response to the first set of sanctions coming from the United States and Europe against Russia in response to this aggression. Since then, Moscow has repeatedly repeated its strategic threats in an attempt to prevent the West from interfering in the ongoing conflict, and to provide growing support to the Ukrainians. If this did not prevent the United States, Great Britain and a number of European countries from delivering increasingly heavy armaments as the Ukrainian resistance grew in strength, this posture nevertheless convinced the West to give up delivering certain advanced equipment such as combat aircraft, anti-aircraft systems or long-range artillery, as well as intervening militarily in the conflict, for example by imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

For Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the US Strategic Command, it is now to be expected that this type of blackmail to deterrence will multiply in the balance of power between the West and Russia, but also vis-à-vis China. Despite the treaties prohibiting nuclear-capable short- and medium-range weapons in Europe, Moscow has in fact equipped itself with numerous dual-capability systems, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads, likely to be used for this type of blackmail. This is particularly the case of 9M273 Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a 50 kiloton nuclear charge 500 km in a semi-ballistic trajectory designed to thwart Western anti-missile defenses, such as the 3M-54/14 Kalibr cruise missile with a range of 1500 km on board corvettes , Russian frigates and submarines (precisely to counter the INF treaty which only concerned land missiles), or even the 9M729 Iskander-K cruise missile which led to the withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty.

Kinzhal airborne hypersonic missile can carry 100-500 kt nuclear payload 2000 km away

Similarly, the new Russian hypersonic missiles are also dual-capable, as the Kinzhal with a range of 2000 km capable of carrying a nuclear payload of 100 to 500 kilotons, and the 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile capable of carrying a nuclear charge estimated at 200 kt. On the Chinese side, the same is true, with missiles like the DF-21 with a range of 1500 km and capable of carrying up to 6 autonomous nuclear warheads from 200 to 500 kt, the DF-26 with a range of 4500 km, and the DF-17 with an estimated range of over 2000 km and carrying a nuclear charge in a hypersonic glider. More recently, Beijing revealed the existence of naval and airborne ballistic missiles of power and capabilities comparable to those of the DF-21. In addition, the Chinese strategic forces have undertaken the construction ofat least 360 hardened silos to accommodate its new fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles solid fuel in the years to come, whereas for two years, Beijing has seen the number of its available nuclear warheads doubled, to the amazement of the US intelligence services which estimated that it would take about ten years for China to achieve it.

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