Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov urged US President Donald Trump to bear in mind there “can be no winners” in a nuclear war. In the exercise, held at Strategic Command in Nebraska, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper played himself in a simulated showdown in Europe between Russia and NATO on Friday. However, Mr Ryabkov voiced his concerns about the war game the next day.
The US is embarking on a highly dangerous game instead of focusing on efforts to strengthen the arms control system that would also cover nuclear weapons
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
He said: “The United States continues a series of command-staff exercises and other drills involving the simulation of limited nuclear strikes, particularly – as it became known recently – on targets in Russia.”
In remarks attributed to him by official Russian news agency Tass, he added: “We condemn such actions because they clearly show that Washington is determined to pursue the path of confrontation and keep lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
“The US is embarking on a highly dangerous game instead of focusing on efforts to strengthen the arms control system that would also cover nuclear weapons.”
He added: “As we have stressed on numerous occasions, we would use nuclear weapons only in two exceptional cases – if Russia faces an attack with weapons of mass destruction or an aggression involving the large-scale use of conventional arms that puts the country’s existence at risk.”
Mr Ryabkov stressed: “Allegations saying that we could act based on the ‘escalation for the sake of de-escalation’ principle are just idle talk that has nothing to do with reality.
“This is why we would like to once again draw the attention of our American colleagues to the need to dot all the I’s in their defence planning and once again confirm the well-known formula that has been there since the Soviet era, which says that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed.
“The United States’ reluctance to confirm the formula gives us more reason to believe that Washington continues drawing up scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons.”
Discussing the simulation, a US defence official explained: “They attacked us with a low-yield nuclear warhead, and in the course of the exercise we simulated responding with a nuclear weapon.”
The exercise assumed a Russian attack against a NATO target in Europe.
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No details were provided about the type of target selected by the US military in retaliation.
In November, a simulation run by US-based think tank RAND considering the outcome of a war with Russia and China offered a gloomy prognosis for Mr Trump, suggesting the US “gets its ass handed to it” in virtually every scenario.
Researcher David Ochmanek said: “We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment.
“We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary.”
A separate simulation run by researchers at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security in September suggested 34 million people would likely die within five hours in the event of the use of one so-called tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon.
A blog post carried on Princeton’s website said: “This project is motivated by the need to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans.
“The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons.
“This four-minute audio-visual piece is based on independent assessments of current US and Russian force postures, nuclear war plans, and nuclear weapons targets.
“It uses extensive data sets of the nuclear weapons currently deployed, weapon yields, and possible targets for particular weapons, as well as the order of battle estimating which weapons go to which targets in which order in which phase of the war to show the evolution of the nuclear conflict from tactical, to strategic to city-targeting phases.”
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