Russian Foreign Ministry Responds to FAS/NRDC Study

Deputy Minister Sergey Ryabkov says he has read the FAS/NRDC report.

By Hans M. Kristensen

Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Ryabkov, gave a lengthy reaction to the FAS/NRDC report From Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence during a press conference Wednesday.

The transcript from the press conference shows that in response to a question that the “report [is] suggesting a possible retargeting of US missile from Russian cities to key economic facilities,” Ryabkov correctly stated: “I have read the report and think that in the Russian media the thesis mentioned by you was taken our of context. That is not the essence of the report.”

Instead, Ryabkov said correctly described that the report “contains an analysis of the hypothetical consequences of the use of nuclear weapons against large industrial and infrastructure facilities, as well as of what the losses might be in the case of the use of warheads of varying yield.” The rest of Ryabkov’s response is reproduced below:

Question: The Federation of American Scientists has published a report suggesting a possible retargeting of US missiles from Russian cities to key economic facilities. How can you comment on this?

Sergey Ryabkov: I have read this report and think that in the Russian media the thesis mentioned by you was taken out of context. That is not the essence of the report. It contains an analysis of the hypothetical consequences of the use of nuclear weapons against large industrial and infrastructure facilities, as well as of what the losses might be in the case of the use of warheads of varying yield.

It is deplorable and regrettable that the really existing facilities on Russian territory were chosen for such an analytical and speculative work. In my opinion, this evidences the authors’ somewhat detached attitude to the fact that much has changed in Russian-US relations in recent years. Considering Russia as a target for potential use of nuclear weapons is not a good idea. This only adds arguments to those who stick to Cold War thinking.

In addition, undoubtedly, the very fact of the appearance of that report bears out our thesis that we cannot approach the question of existing potentials abstractly. Intentions, however positive and constructive today, may change tomorrow. The Federation of American Scientists is perfectly aware of this. And the very fact of the appearance of this material suggests that there needs to be serious negotiation, and that the logic of strategic equilibrium and a super-responsible approach to this sphere cannot be sacrificed to any, even the most constructive political intentions or a general favorable disposition.

Intentions and dispositions are very ephemeral magnitudes, and the potentials and capacity to deal a blow, as the Association writes quite cynically and coldly about this in its report, enumerating the exponentially increasing millions of victims and speculating about how many more and what kind of warheads are needed for this knockout, are a wake-up call and a reminder to us that we live in a harsh world, whose realities can’t be disregarded.”

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