Interview with Prof. Rahr, former adviser of Gazprom for the EU: „Russia‘s main goal is to become an independent and dominant pole in the new polycentric world order“

Interview with Prof. Rahr, former adviser of Gazprom for the EU: „Russia‘s main goal is to become an independent and dominant pole in the new polycentric world order“

Global Review had again the honour to have an interview with Prof. Alexander Rahr, expert in Russian affairs, political scientist, member of the Valdai Club, adviser of Gazprom for the EU and author of the book „Putin decoded-Russia 2054“. Alexander Rahr is a honorary professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Higher school of Economics. He studied at the Munich State University, worked 1980-1994 for the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe, the Federal Institute for East European and International Studies. He was a consultant of RAND Corporation, USA. From 1994-2012 he headed the Russian/Eurasian Center at the German Council on Foreign Relations. He then consulted Wintershall Holding and later Gazprom Brussels on European affairs. Since 2012 he is program director at the German-Russian Forum. He is member of the Petersburg Dialogue, Valdai Club, Yalta European Strategy network, author of several books about Russia.

Global Review: Dr. Rahr, after a period of tensions in the US-Russian relations which accumulated in the retreat from the INF treaty, at the moment both sides seem to get closer.After the Mueller report Trump seems to think that it is time to negotiate with Russia. Trump´s telephone call with Putin at the zenit of the Venezulanian and Iranian crisis seems to be an indicator for that. Trump and Putin discussed Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Trump even proposed an arments pact with Russia and China.How great do you think the chances are for a Trump-Putin deal and what what could be the content? The definition of spheres of infuence in Latinamerica, Africa, the Greater Middle East, Europe and Asia? Could a deal look like this: Russia accepts Guaido in Venezuela for a guarentee for Russian investment and the possession of Citgo, Putin kicks out Iran from Syria and he and Assad get free hand, Putin keeps distance to Iran and China, therefore Trump grants him Crimea and declares Ukraine and Belorussia as neutral puffer states?

Prof. Rahr: Trump definately is a person who loves deals. If he had so much power in the US as Putin in Russia, world politics would already look quite different from now.  Important for Trump is foremost American greatness: the Pax Americana. The US should remain the strongest and economically wealthiest country on earth. But Trump understands that there are two competitive powers who can challenge his goals. Russia remains the only country on earth which, theoretically, could destroy the US militarily. And Russia is the only competitor, whom the US is not capable to defeat with military means.  China is a second challenge for Trump – less for military might, more in terms of economic power. The Chinese economy will overtake the US economy by the mid of the century. Trump could be tempted to play Moscow and Beijing out against each other, and he will certainly do it, but he will refrain from acting so bluntly: he will rather try to make deals. After being reelected as US President next year, Trump will become less dependent on the Congress. He will increase his room for maneuver. Yes, he will probably devide the world between him, Putin and Xi. Russia would get back its influence zone on the postsoviet territory, including Ukraine and Crimea. China will not face any objections by the US to develop its Silk-Road-expansionist policy through Asia into Eurasia. Trump‘s single goal in the Greater Middle East would be the protection of Israel and the weakening of Iran. Trump will demand diplomatic leadership in dismantling any nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. He may go as far as dismantling NATO. Trump will forge bilateral military alliances with „key“-countries, such as Poland, Romania and Great Britain, but care less about protection of such countries like Germany and France. The disappearance of NATO may end the geopolitical struggle between US and Russia in Europe.

Global Review: Western experts on Russia speak of an  Russian „strategy of dynamic defense“ and Russian geostrategist Karagamow of an „strategy of patience“. The hypothesies ist hat Putin´s startegy is a reivival oft he former Russian geostrategists Snesarew and Swetschin and takes their strategies, the lession of the collapse oft he Sovjetunion as blueprint for a modern Russian strategy which consists of the following elements:

  • No adventurism and massive boots on the ground as in Afghanistan, but hybrid warfare, selected strikes, special OPS , intelligence operations ,social media war and cyberwarfare
  • No new arms race
  • An independent Euraisan foreign policy which first relies more on China and the Asian pivot, but makes no alliance with China and uses innercapitalist contradictions of theWest and patiently waits that the West erodes because of his neoliberal ideology and economic system
  • If the West declines, Russia will be in a position to renogotiate with him a new international, multipolar world order from a new position of strength

Do you agree that this ist he strategy Putin and the nowadays Russian elites pratice and if yes, do you think this will have success?

Prof. Rahr: Russia‘s main goal is to become an independent and dominant pole in the new polycentric world order. Russia wants a organic relationship with the US, foremost in fighting Islamism in the Southern hemisphere of our planet. Russia wants pragmatic partnerships with the industrial developed European countries. Russia wants the same influence in  European affairs as the US. Russia would welcome the demise of NATO and a strengthening of the OSCE as the main security organisation for the Northern hemisphere of our planet. Russia seeks to revive the idea of a strong Eurasian market and Eurasian security. Here, Russia sees China, Turkey, India as its favorable strategic partners. Russia fully understands that for decades to come, it will remain one if the main energy and other resource base for the world economy. It suspects other great powers of envying that resource base to Russia. Russia is not an ideological country, as the USSR was. Moscow does not intend to enforce its political system on other states, as the USSR was trying to achieve through the Communist revolution. But Moscow does not want to see the European continent to be a „value community“ – a singular club for liberal democracies – from which countries with a stronger authoritarian system are being expelled. What Moscow does not tolerate are Western attempts to expand its liberal model further to Russian borders. Russia will reject such a Europe of „crusaders“.

Global Review: Russian geostrategist Karagamov, ideological promoter of the Russian Asian pivot and Eurasiaism speaks in Russia in Global affairs about the danger of a war and that Russia together with China should have a joint strategy to counter this threat. In another article he proposes that Russia should be the bridge between the East and the West.  On the other side another article summarizes the reaction of Russian academic elites to China´s New Silkroad and caimed that while in the beginning there was euphoria that BRI could be beneficial to Russia, desillusion was now the main tendency. Which position has Putin and the Russian elites on the Russian-Chinese cooperation? Does Russia to form an Eurasian bloc, become a junior partner or even strategic ally of China or ist own pole in a polycetric world and choose neutrality ? Is it possible that Putin or the Russian elites have very different assessment about the future?

Prof. Rahr: Russia and China have a complicated relationship, full of distrust. However, both countries are united in their goal to build a multipolar system in the world. Both regard the US hegemony with suspicion. China is interested in Russian natural resources and military technology. Russia knows it has Chia at its side should the US and EU launch new sanctions against Moscow. China has a robust financial system, which can shield Russia off from heavy blows in case the Americans start new attacks against the Russian banking system. But Russia may immediately turn again towards the West, if the West stops its geopolitical fightings.

Global Review: The Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in Moscow on April 12 conferring on Prime Minister Narendra Modi Russia’s highest state award, the Order of St Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. This is the highest and oldest state order of Russia, first established in 1698. It was abolished under the Soviet Union but re-established in 1998. 

Modi is the first leader from the democratic world to receive the Order of St Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. For the beleaguered Indian Prime Minister fighting an existential battle for political survival in the general election, this is like manna from the heaven boosting a sagging image in the public perceptions of a lacklustre government that couldn’t get its act together in the economy or good governance. Does Russia fear that China is getting too strong and wants more rely on India?

The SCO with the membership of India and Pakistan became bigger, but didi it become stronger und more united? China wanted to have Pkaistan as new member, Russia India. Will this weaken the SCO because this inclusion menas that you get the Indo-Pakistani conflict in the house oft he SCO? After Trump won Bolsanaro-Brasil over, does Putin now rely more on India in the BRICS as his vision of a multipolar wolrd otehrwise would become obsolete?

Prof. Rahr: Russia‘s primary goal is to install a multipolar order on the global scale. Putin wants to enter history as one of the main architects of the multipolar world order, which would replace the unipolar order, which has operated world-wide since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Putin‘s idea is to establish a new security order for Eurasia and to counter the NATO dominance in the Westen hemisphere. He believes that the grand design of globalization is dead. In future, the world economy will disintegrate in several regional market structures – various pols of the future world order. Putin also believes that NATO and the West will never become full-fledged combatants of Russia and China in the global struggle against Islamism. Putin is convinced that the break-up of the Middle East will only lead to a strengthening of Islamism and Islamic terrorism in the fragile Arabic world. He seeks to forge an alliance against the threats from the South foremost with the member states of the SCO.  The Kremlin leader clearly understands, that Russia has not the potential to create such alliances by itself. China is the real actor on the global scene. Russian diplomacy is designed to press Eurasian and Southeast Asian states  – within the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation (SCO) or in BRICS – to confer on these strategic issues. The Shanghai Organization of Cooperation may indeed become the nucleus for such a regional security system, but that will take a long time. The leading member countries of SCO and BRICS are disunited, India and Pakistan are almost in the stage of war with each other. India and Pakistan are reluctant to follow Russia and China in their endeavor, to create a global opposition to the US and the West. However, Trump‘s rejection of a US-Asian Free Trade Zone, has put China in the pole position regarding the installation of a common economic zone from the Black Sea to the Indian Sea and further to the Pacific Ocean. Russia fully understands this and takes its advantage in offering China a sort of integration between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese Silk-Road strategy. Why do I think, that Russian and Chinese gigantic plans on Asia will succeed? Very simple: because the West dramatically losses its former influence, which it possessed since the beginning of colonization in this region, to China. Instead of asking for cooperation with the SCO, the Silk-Road strategy, or the Eurasian Economic Union, the West ignores these organizations politically. The West even wants to denounce these organizations, restrict their global importance. This Western policy is doomed to fail.

Global Review: The director of the Policy Planning staff of Secretary of State Pompeo , Dr. Kiron Skinner held a speech at the Security Forum oft he New American Project claiming that the Cold War between the Sovjetunion and the West was an conflict between two Western civilizations, but the New Cold war with China was a conflict with a non-Western civilization. This sounds that she perceives Russia and Putin as part of the Western civilization, while in the case of China we have some sort of Clash of civilizations ala Huntington.At the moment most experts see the category fort he West being a liberal democracy with the values of Enlightment, an open society ala Popper or Soros and the East is mostly defined as authotarianism. Russian geostratgeist Karagonov speaks in his article in Russia in Global Affairs of an „genetic orientation of the East towards authotariatism“. Marx and other Western thinklers in the 19th century already spoke of Asian despotism and Wittfogel explained the Asian despotism in Russia and China by his theory of hydraulic societies. This is a clear contradiction. Is Skinnert´s cultural approach leading to anywhere? How coul thios contradiction be overcome? Aren´t Russia and China ideological hybrids between Western and Eastern civilization and Russia more of the West as it is an Eurasian power and China an Asian power which wants to become a global world power? Is Marxism part of the Western civilization or just the ideas of Enlightment? Weren´t fascism and nationalsocialism parts of the Western civilization? How influential are the ideas of Dr. Skinner as a director oft he Policy Planning Staff? Is this more an abstract academic discussion as Trump doesn´t care about this and his categories as a mercantalist geoeconomistare  that an economically weak , but military strong Russia is not the main competitor fort he USA, but that an economically strong and military ascending power as China is the main competitor and enemy for the future US world order? And what is Putin´s point of view in these discussions?

Prof. Rahr: The Western world has raised to world dominance in the past 500 years due to the „right“ principles, political system, ideas and universal human attraction. Enlightenment was that what made the West so great and successful. The freeing of Man, European policy of secularization, scientific exploration, free market system, democracy, American cult of individualism and Calvinism – that has been the ultimate guide-line  for mankind development, the only civilizations compass, the ultimate truth, the new religion. In 1990 the West celebrated its greatest historical victory. It defeated at the end of the Cold War the Soviet Union, Marxism, Communism and the only existing alternative project to capitalism and democracy. The contemporary Western philosophers – the new political scientists – proclaimed the „end of history“. Never again mankind would invent such a successful system as the liberal democratic one. The West proclaimed itself as the architect of a new universal free order. This Westen-made order survived 30 years. It is now being challenged from outside the Western civilization: from China. The previous Western foe – Communist Russia – was part of the European world, China comes from outside. Nobody knows what a Pax China will look like. But certainly it possesses enormous powers and potentials to divide the world again in East and West.  The present-day tendencies make the future world look trilateral. Despite the present quarrels, US and EU will stay together. They have no other choice. Since Europeans mistrust Russia and regard Russia as their potential enemy, squeezing this country out of Europa into Asia, observers speak of future Eurasian Alliances which will ultimately develop into a united military and economic bloc. For me, the more interesting question on how the world will look like is this: what consequences will a break-up of the Middle East and Africa will have for us? In my view there is a clear danger that the impact of the implosions in the South will be something of a new Arabic empire, highly anti-Western. That alliance will be formed out of failed states, but heavily armed and effectively operational through a fundamentalistic ideology. Seeing the Western failure to stabilize countries like Afghanistan, Irak, Libya, Syria – not to speak about African states – such a catastrophic scenario cannot be ignored at all.

Global Review: Isn´t it pure speculation and a pipedream to envision an Islamist bloc or an Euraisan bloc or ad EU-USA bloc as the centrifugal tendencies seem to be very strong. The former Islam expert of the Bush jr. administration and founder of the Middle East Forum Daniel Pipes claims that Islamism had already reached ist peak in 2013 and is splitting in different factions as Communism and Panarabism before—means the opposite of an tendency of unificiation. Other Islam experst think that Islamism has reached its peak with the Islamic State which was successfully destroyed in the center of the Greater Middle East and that a second wave is now reaching the periphery in Africa and Southeastasia, but also won´t be successful. Shiite Islamism (Iran) is challenged by Trump and will be contained or toppled by regime change or a war. The Muslimbrothers and Erdogan´s AKP are also in  a crisis.  The US-EU bloc is challenged by Trump and the EU shows desintergrating tendencies. All these longterm projection of united blocs and regional blocs could also be a miscalculation.What forces should unite these powers except the Chinese Silkroadort he Quad-Project of an Asia-Africa-Growth Corridor (AAGC)?

Prof. Rahr: Nobody can really foresee the future. But all analysts in various think tanks are engaged in guessing how the world will look like by the mid of the century. Dozens of books about Armageddon and the end of times fill the book shelves. And it is true that for the first time since the end of the Cold War, more citizens of Europe feel insecurity. Of course, one can say that the Trump era might be over soon and Barack Obama‘s former Deputy, Joe Biden, will reorient the US towards Europe. One may, of course, speculate that the British people will have another referendum and stop Brexit. Greece will overcome its financial problems. The problem of nuclear proliferation will be solved. Russia will return to democracy after Putin. The German- French locomotive will lead Europe out of the present mess. It is possible that the EU elites win the fight against europopulism and a further political integration will fulfill the dreams of the followers of the idea of the United States of Europe. It is legitime to speculate that Islamism has been successfully defeated and that 9/11 will never repeat itself. I just read a serious article saying that the default of Africa will be delayed since there will not be a demographic explosion at all. Western enlightenment will celebrate more victories and finally influence the entire world population. The liberal democratic model will prevail, state capitalist and authoritarian systems, like those in China, Russia, Turkey, Iran will become history. The planet Earth will become – after the present crises disappear – the most nicest place to live in centuries. Technological progress and a return of the world system to multilateralism will halt all negativ tendencies, which shocked us so much at the beginning of the 21st century. The West will be the winner of the changes again. Asians will remain in the second row. But it is too early to become optimist again. The multipolar world system is in the midst of its formation, the process is surrounded with dangerous instabilities, more conflicts, mutual aggression and numerous revolutions. My scenario is that which I draw above. I describe it in my new book „2054: Putin decoded“.

Global Review: Trump and his aide Steve Bannon want to destroy the EU as Putin wants as he is supporting the Front National with 40 million Euro by an Russian oligarch, the AfD, the FPÖ in Austria with a party treaty between the FPÖ and the Putin party „United Russia“.. The idea ist hat if there is no common market, the Trump-USA and Putin-Russia won´t have a competitor, but proxy states which they can controll and instrumantilze. The old deep state oft he USA and the EU wants to resist. Therefore a Trump-Putin deal could be dangerous tot he EU and Germany. However, if the EU doesn´t desintegrate, there could be the chance for a new East policy which tries to take advantage oft he Trump-Putin deal if the EU and Germany doesn´t care to much about values and focuses more on economic development. A liberal Westeurope could connect with the more authotraian Eastern Europe and Russia by proposing an European Silkroad. I already had thios idea some years ago to countert he Chinese New Silkroad and the 16 plus 1 group ( East and South Europeans states plus China) which is a Chinese backyard in Europe. Maybe the EU shouldn´t focus on liberal values, but to promote economic development by a European Silkroad. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), voice of Germany´s conservative elites and the German big capital recently published an article „Why not an European Silkroad“-from Lisbon to Moscow.

This would generate economic growth, job opportunities fort he mass unemployed European youth, integrate the 16 plus 1 group, the Polish 3- Seas-Initiative with ist regional backyard oft he Visegrad states and in total 12 East and South European states, integrate Europe by a sustainable infrastructure and a common project and therefore a concrete vision. Why can´t there be an European Silkroad to integrate Europe not by membership and the Euro, but by an infrastructure project which creates regional and panEuropean corridors of economic development? Why should the Chinese built a railway from Budapest to Belgrad and not the EU? Thereby you could also build a connection with Russia as free trade zones, security zones from Vancouver to Vladivostok or a modernization partnership didn´t perform well in the past. The Vienna Institute for International Economic Comparison already published a working paper „The European Silkroad“ which is the first concrete blueprint.–dlp-4598.pdf

Therefore, if the EU changes her value based policy and focuses on economic development, promotes peaceful coexistence between authotarian and liberal democracies, an European Silkroad and a New East Policy could be the result which brings West and Eastern Europe an Russia together as counterpart against the US and Chinese ambitins for world hegemony. . Do you think this is realistic? Will there be chance fort hat, if the Great coalition under Heiko Maas and Merkel are supproting a strictly value based foreign policy , even a feminist foreign policy and the successors, most likely Annegret Krampf-Karrenbauer and the Greens have a black-green coalition?

Prof. Rahr: I fully agree. The EU should quit its value-driven policy approach and return to realism. National interests is that what always counts. Of course, great powers are intended to create their spheres of interest. The US as the sole superpower on earth regards the entire world as its zone of influence. But the US hegemony has ended. Russia has reestablished its zone of influence on the post-soviet space. China is expanding with its Silk-Road strategy in the heart of Europa. But the Europeans also posses their zone of influence: the EU and its partner countries. It is true that Russia and the EU are fighting over their influence over territories like Ukraine, Moldova or the Western Balkans. It is true that Russia and the EU use asymmetrical war methods to enhance into the rivals’ territory, using modern cyber and internet techniques. Ukraine has become a typical country, which is torn apart by West and East in the new geopolitical confrontation. So far, the EU could feel safe, because it knew that at he end of the day, it always could rely on American protection. But the strongest nuclear power on earth is moving away from the EU. American policy is designed to split Europa today, on economic but also military issues. NATO is no more priority for the Trump administration. The US regards the EU as a market – which should buy American products. This American arrogance has created shock waves in Europa, but the new US policy is not a simple nightmare, but reality. Should the EU be interested in a normalization of relations with Russia? For sure. The EU faces otherwise the danger of being squeezed between those two great powers US and Russia, not to forget China.

Germany should take the lead in fostering a concept of a common space between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. That will not be achieved over night. But it will bring many advantages to Europeans. The Russian resources and fossile energy will not go to China. Russia, as the second nuclear power on earth, could offer Europeans protection against the challenges from the South. And the EU could assist Russia in modernizing its economy – in exchange for excess to Siberia and Russia‘s big market. 

Global Review: In the former Sovjetunion GOSPLAN controlled the economy, a state planned economy without any real incentives.Under Jelzin Dr. Sachs realkized his 100day-crash privatization, the Bigbang reforms which led to mass poverty and instead of an even distribution of the vouchers to the formation of an oligarch capitalism. The lost Chechen war, the mass poverty,the rule of the oligarchs, lifeexpectency of the average Russian citizen dropped  by 10 years the possible sellout of Russian resources and strategic industries lead to Putin´s election.But what does Russia´s economy under Putin look like. Is it a state controlled economy of strategic industries and resources, the controll of the state of the oligarchs, the development of new industries besides oil, gas and weapon exports? Ae there new industries which get promoted by Putin? Is there some sort of modernized GOSPLAN? Has Russia its own Silicon Valley, special economic zones and new technology parks as China or the USA? What about the Russian agricultural sector–has Russia as the Sovjetunion to import grain and other food  from the USA? How competitive is Russia´s economy if the Jamestown Foundation has a special section on its website „The decline of Russia“? Is Russia just Obervolta with nucleasr weapons (Helmut Schmidt) or a weaponized Belgium (Junckers)?

Prof. Rahr: Russia needs the EU to continue its path towards technological modernization. It is certainly untrue that Russia is economically underdeveloped. Russia has a state capitalism, which suits its present-day development better than a laisser-faire market economy, which failed in Russia in the 1990s. Economically, Russia certainly is a backward country in comparison with Germany, France or the Benelux countries. But Russia is a resource empire, not only a producer of energy, but also controller of all necessary mineral resources, which Western industrial countries will need for their development.

Global Review:  While most US strategist perceive Russia as the only power which could destroy the USA and the world, the same people think of China as the main competitor which could be brought down by concepts like Airseabattle or TX Hammes´s Offshore Controll, a sea blocade which suffocitates China economically below the threshold of a nuclear war. How would Russia react if Trump as prolongation and escalation of the US-Chinese trade war uses Offshore Controll, if China doesn´t give in?

Prof. Rahr: The US must had used the sea blockage against China long ago, if that option could had led to defeat China‘s global ambitions. In 2019, China can compete with the US maritime power in the Indian Ocean and the South Chinese Sea. It is only a matter of time when China „grasps“ Taiwan. The annexation of Taiwan will make China a true superpower – China would reach the level of the US. What will Russia do? It would acknowledge China‘s sovereignty over Taiwan – in exchange for China‘s official recognition of Crimea as part of Russia. The US will refrain from a sea blockade against China, because it cannot count on supporters for this military operation, neither from India, nor from any Asian Tiger state. Even from the EU, the US will never face support for these hostile actions.

Global Review: Putin warned of the danger of a nuclear war. The Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessment (CSBA) spoke of a second nuclear age which because of ist military multipolarity, spectrum of new weapon systems and trigger-alert constellations would be much more unstable than the First Nuclear Age oft he Cold War. There are some military strategists who think that a great power war could be possible below the treshold of a nuclear war. TX Hammes Offshore Controll or Airseabattle are two examples.

In Russia in Global Affairs Alexei V. Fenenko, Doctor of Political Science at Moscow State University as Associate Professor of Faculty of World Politics wrote in his cointribution:“Long Peace” and Nuclear WeaponsWill They Prevent Big War? In 29 March 2019 about the possibility of nuclear wars and the development of nuclear weapons:


Technically and politically, a land-based regional war between Russia and the United States is now more likely than in the 1960s and it may be a great temptation for politicians. In this situation, nuclear weapons will hardly serve as a deterrent. We often forget that the use of nuclear weapons is not a military but a political factor: using them requires a top-level approval. Such an approval is unlikely not only during a limited war on the territory of a third state but also during a full-scale war. It would be appropriate to recall the “chemical precedent” when great powers fight without resorting to their weapons of mass destruction.(…)

Conditions are also developing for conducting major regional wars. Over the past ten years, there have emerged at least two conflict areas between Russia and the United States—the Baltic-Black Sea region and the Middle East—where the parties are deploying military infrastructures in close proximity to each other. In the future, Afghanistan may become a third such area, where U.S. bases are potential targets for Russian retaliatory strikes if Russian facilities are destroyed somewhere else. The U.S. and Russia are actively developing, and now deploying in crisis regions, various types of air defense systems and regional missile defense systems. Washington’s plans to recreate a fleet of medium and shorter-range missiles fit into this logic. They are an ideal means for taking hostage as many regional objects as possible.

Theoretically, one can imagine a limited war between great powers, in which nuclear weapons will not be used, just as chemical weapons were not used in World War II.

The key question of the 21st century strategy is: Can nuclear weapons be used in some other way, beyond the “air power” concept? There have been no such strategies so far. Yet, the past twenty years have seen new interesting studies in this area.

  • “Minimization” of nuclear weapons. In the early 2000s, publications appeared in the United States on the creation of “mini-nukes” with a yield of one to five kilotons (Caldicott, 2004). This weapon can theoretically be used to destroy hard and deeply buried targets with minimal environmental consequences. Nuclear weapons will repeat the evolution of artillery in the early mopern period, from heavy siege weapons of the Hundred Years’ War to light quick-firing guns of the 16th century.
  • Combination of tactical nuclear weapons and infantry actions. Similar experiments were conducted during military exercises in the United States and the Soviet Union back in the 1950s. However, this idea was revived in the U.S. “joint operations” concept of 2005. It provides for combining the use of rapid reaction forces and local nuclear strikes (Doctrine, 2005). There has been no data so far testifying to the continuation of these studies, but these may be secret.
  • “Weapon of genocide”. Russian expert Andrei Kokoshin back in 2003 wrote that nuclear war may have a political goal as a war waged by a nuclear state against a non-nuclear one (Kokoshin, 2003, p. 3). In this case, nuclear weapons turn into weapons of genocide of certain peoples. Perhaps, an ideal solution to this problem would be “a light version of nuclear weapons,” such as neutron bombs which destroy organic matter and inflict minimal damage on infrastructure. Genocide, the scale of which in the first half of the 20th century was limited due to a low technological level, is now becoming easier to commit.

There arises a seemingly unusual perspective. It is not nuclear weapons that help maintain stability; rather, a gradual decay of the “long peace” will raise the need for the transformation of nuclear weapons, perhaps, into some other type of weapon. Modern types of nuclear weapons are not suitable for large regional wars. Therefore, they may either die out (which, in fact, has happened to chemical weapons, which are now being destroyed) or adapt to new conditions and become an integral part of future regional conflicts. Nuclear weapons already act not so much as a guarantee against war as a guarantee that your enemy will not use them against you—like chemical weapons in World War II.“

This means that US and Russian military thinkers seem to believe that great power wars could be fought today, similar to Reagan´s NSC Directive 54 which claimed, that nuclear wars could be limited, lead and be won. How realistic is Putin´s warning and how big the chance that after the retreat from the INF treaty Trump´s arments pact between the USA, Russia and China could materialize?

Prof. Rahr: Let me respond philosophically. Yes, a nuclear war has become a possibility. US think tanks develop a scenario, according to which deterrence will work only after a first US strike against the enemies‘ territory had occurred. The US would strike and then propose negotiations, demonstrating its political will to act forcefully and intimidating the enemy. The question is whether the US leadership really will go so far in „safeguarding“ the unipolar world order. The Russians and Chinese are carefully watching and studying what US think tanks produce. And take appropriate counter actions. More probable than a nuclear war is the continuation of proxy wars – like that we are facing in East Ukraine, Syria, Yemen. The use if a nuclear war, the third time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would put the US against the rest if the world; such a step would isolate America. Russia and China will definitely not use the nukes as preemptive strikes against any one; only if they will face an military attack on their territory. To be honest, these doomsday scenario dies not lead us further. In my mind, the biggest danger for a nuclear war strives from proliferation. A dirty nuclear bomb in the possession of terrorists – there is no bigger nightmare.  

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