Russian navy should be equipped with tactical nukes, says Russian scientist

Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller weapons designed to be used with more conventional weapon platforms such as artillery shells or torpedoes. 

 A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is launched during the exercises by nuclear forces in an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released February 19, 2022. (photo credit: Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile is launched during the exercises by nuclear forces in an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released February 19, 2022.
(photo credit: Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)

The Russian navy should be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons, a Russian nuclear scientist proposed to Russian state media on Friday. 

"On this issue [the equipping the fleets with tactical nuclear weapons], we found complete mutual understanding with [recently deceased Russian Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir] Vysotsky," Radii Ilkaev of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center told RIA. 

"We wanted this issue to be discussed in the Security Council," Ilkaev continued. "We are a great maritime power and must have an appropriate fleet for protection. But in order to build such a fleet, you need 100 years, it is very expensive. In the meantime, you need to protect it by available means — to return tactical nuclear weapons, they are in warehouses."

Ilkaev said that there was only a "gentleman's agreement" not to implement such a policy after then Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev reduced such arms in agreement with the US. 

 A Russian Air Force MiG-31 fighter jet releases Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a drill in an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released February 19, 2022. (credit: RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A Russian Air Force MiG-31 fighter jet releases Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a drill in an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released February 19, 2022. (credit: RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller weapons designed to be used with more conventional weapon platforms such as artillery shells or torpedoes. 

"The media are spreading speculation about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the course of the special military operation, or about the readiness to use chemical weapons."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

Will Russia use nuclear weapons against Ukraine?

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed rumors about the Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Russia-Ukraine war on Tuesday.

"The media are spreading speculation about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the course of the special military operation, or about the readiness to use chemical weapons," Shoigu said during a speech at an international security conference in Moscow, according to Reuters. "All these informational attacks are absolute lies."

Shoigu also rejected the idea that Russia would use any nuclear weapons in Ukraine altogether. 

"From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve the set goals," said the Russian defense minister. "The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack."

Russia's nuclear weapon platforms

Currently, the Russian Navy possesses nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles capable of supporting nuclear warheads.

On July 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian Navy will be equipped with its military's newest naval hypersonic missile in the coming months, the nuclear warhead-capable Zircon missile

Days prior, TASS reported that the hypersonic weapon was expected to be deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov frigate by as early as September. 

"State tests of the product have been completed, all documents for the adoption of the product into service have been prepared," a source in the military told TASS. "It is expected that in September the surface Zircon will be put into service with the fleet."

The Russian Navy suffered several blows during the Russia-Ukraine War, such as the death of naval officers and the loss of almost a dozen ships in the Black Sea Fleet, including the flagship, the Moskva.