At the end of July in Vienna will be held the first consultation of the working groups in the dialogue on strategic stability between Russia and the United States. One of them will start a nuclear doctrines: U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Russia in the framework of the so-called concept of “escalation to de-escalation” is ready to cause a limited nuclear strike. In Moscow the existence of such plans categorically deny. The correspondent of “Kommersant” Elena Chernenko discussed this topic with a leading researcher in the Vienna center for disarmament and non-proliferation (VCDNP), a member of the Soviet-American talks on arms control in the 80s — early 90-ies Nikolai Sokov. He popularized the concept.— Is it true that you entered in the Western discourse the term “escalation to de-escalation”? — I admit guilt. Was the first who used the term outside of Russia— in early 2000, in an article about the new Russian military doctrine (the article still can be found on the website of Nuclear Threat Initiative). But it is not mine — a term borrowed from the later fame of article V. I. Levshin, A.V. Nedelin and M. E. Sosnovsky, published in the journal “Military thought” in 1999, “the use of nuclear weapons to de-escalate hostilities.” The term I liked because it was used for the maintenance of the doctrine of 2000.— That is, he was in their paper and you have it translated into English and popularized? What you meant by it?— To 2000 Russian military doctrine, and Soviet before it — involved the use of nuclear weapons only in the context of a third world war. In 2000, there is another scenario — the limited use of nuclear weapons in response to large-scale non-nuclear attack. The article postulated the idea that the threat of a limited nuclear strike could help such an attack to prevent or force the enemy to stop the ongoing conflict and to return to the status quo. From my point of view, this term is well described by doctrinal innovation, let the article and came out a few months before the publication of the doctrine.Then about 15 years this subject is of little interest, but gradually interest began to grow — as I said, the article is very brief on this subject which I published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 2014, caused a strong interest in a staff-NATO apartment. And in 2017, when the administration of the tramp, he was picked up reinterpretion to justify certain nuclear programs, such as started a few months ago the deployment of low-power ammunition on ballistic missile submarines. I introduced the term into wide circulation, but to see this coming two decades ago, nobody could.— And why in that moment at the end of 1999, fuss��La in General discussion, which led to the emergence of the term “escalation to de-escalation”? — Judging by open sources, the task of designing a new military doctrine was issued at a meeting of the security Council in mid-March 1999 — the first after the appointment of Vladimir Putin Secretary of the security Council. In the midst of the war over Kosovo; Serbia is exposed to the blows of precision weapons of long range, which she had nothing to answer. In Moscow realize that the military actions in Chechnya can resume at any time (it happened at the end of the same year), and if U.S. and NATO intervene in the same way as in the Balkans, the answer will be nothing.It is clear that there are nuclear weapons, but the threat to start a world war in response to limited conflict only unconvincing, since it is the end of civilization. A logical way to provide a wider range of tasks for nuclear weapons and the possibility of limited use.That was done in the military doctrine of 2000. She identifies four types of military action — an armed conflict (in practice, Chechnya), a local conflict (in practice, the war with Georgia in 2008), regional conflict (failed intervention of the US and NATO in Chechnya), and global conflict. The first use of nuclear weapons is admitted not only in the fourth, but in the third type of conflict.This was a popular idea at the time. In 1996, the then Minister of atomic industry Viktor Mikhaylov suggested for the purpose, which in hindsight can be called a de-escalation, to produce a significant number of ultra-low ammunition capacity. In 1999, in addition to the above-mentioned articles, the Academy of Peter the Great (Academy of the strategic missile forces) published a study in which the most likely scenario for escalation was considered the transition from the first kind of conflict directly to the third; it is clear what was discussed. To call this a de-escalation — a matter of taste. It was about that large-scale non-nuclear conflict, high-stakes Russia can cross the nuclear threshold, if will be on the verge of defeat. How limited would be the use, remains unclear. There is reason to believe that it is very limited.— But the possibility of intervention by the West over Chechnya, which has been the trigger for the doctrine of 2000, are long gone. — Nevertheless, the scenario of regional war remains part of the doctrine. That is purely theoretically imagine that NATO has decided to help Ukraine return the Crimea by force. The presence of NATO nuclear powers and the question of territorial integrity (for Russia, and in this case it does not matter that NATO does not recognize) automatically translates such a conflict in the category of “regional”. The same applies to Kaliningrad. This, of course, only an example of such a scenario is extremely unlikely.— You go��shout about the item, under which Russia may use nuclear weapons during a conventional conflict if the very existence of the state be endangered? In 2000 it was about situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation. The wording about “the existence of the state” appeared only in 2010. Both terms are quite vague, but it is clear that in 2010 the nuclear threshold was slightly elevated.Here it is necessary to clarify a key point. Nuclear deterrence in scenarios of this type is based on the asymmetry of rates: it is assumed that, for example, the independence of Chechnya or similar tasks may be important for the U.S. and its allies, but not enough to risk even a limited nuclear conflict. For Russia the stakes are much higher, which makes limited use of nuclear weapons theoretically justified, and most importantly, convincing. Accordingly, for these scenarios, the task of applying the “fixed” damage, not unacceptable — costs that exceed the expected positive effect from the use of force, but will not lead to global war. It is clear that this scenario requires credible deterrence at the strategic level (otherwise the other party could theoretically increase the level of conflict).But the debate about the role of nuclear weapons never abated. So, in 2009, in the context of the discussion of the new edition of the military doctrine, the suggestion was made to distribute nuclear weapons to the level of local conflicts.— Then, because the Secretary of security Council Nikolay Patrushev even announced it in an interview with “Izvestia”. — Right. The fact that internal discussions were made on the pages of Newspapers, was quite shocking. This proposal was rejected — the threat of nuclear weapons for this type of conflict would be overkill, and just the threat unconvincing. Without going into details, the threat or use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries, would be contrary to the long-term interests of Russia.— Many Western experts considered that this item was still OK, but just not included in publicly released documents. — This assumption is simply illogical. If you want to use nuclear weapons to prevent war, the threat should be dealt with. It is clear that operational plans were not disclosed, but here we are talking about politics.— In the West the limited use of Russian nuclear weapons is often perceived as the use of tactical weapons. — All is “tactical” it is better to use the term non-strategic weapons, since we are talking about distances of 1.5–2 thousand km, which are embodied in the various agreements, the terminology is pretty inconsistent. This begs a parallel with the plans of NATO during the Cold war, when in response to large-scale non-nuclear on��adena the Soviet Union planned to use tactical and non-strategic nuclear weapons (the remains of the Arsenal, about 150 bombs — still remain in Europe). At the theory level of the NATO “flexible response” and the Russian “regional war” are really the same, but the weapons and technology are different today, so to copy NATO’s reliance on tactical weapons pointless.Back in 2003 was quite clear: because the United States and NATO rely on non-nuclear long-range weapons (actually, since the first middle East war in 1990 played a key role cruise missile), and the containment should be based on long-range (for example, those cruise missiles) but in nuclear equipment.From the outset it was clearly indicated that the enhanced reliance on nuclear weapons is a temporary measure until until Russia will adopt a modern conventional weapons, including precision-guided long-range. In 2014, the military doctrine, the notion of non-nuclear deterrence, and in 2015 Russia has demonstrated in Syria is non-nuclear cruise missiles, sea-and air-based. To completely remove nuclear tasks to “regional conflicts” did not work — it is clear that compared with the United States and NATO class of weapons that is used by hundreds of units, difficult for Russia. In the end, the nuclear threshold has increased, but the possibility of his crossing is not removed.— But deterrence is not war. How can one be sure that the development that is a military scenario, Russia does not adhere to the concept of “escalation to de-escalation”?— Indeed, the deterrence of war and the conduct of hostilities is different stories. Deterrence is a policy of peace time, the purpose of which is to prevent the attack. In General terms, to deter you need, first, to demonstrate the existence of a military capability sufficient to thwart the plans of the enemy or inflict damage in excess, that is to say, profit from the hostilities (taking into account the imbalance of potentials, this can be achieved, in particular, nuclear weapons). Secondly, to outline the scenarios that will be applied to a military force, including nuclear weapons (which was done in military doctrines since 2000). And third, to demonstrate its resolve to use force. The last is the most difficult. It is necessary, on the one hand, to show determination, and with another — to make so that it was not perceived as a direct threat. Most often this is achieved by exercises that show — “we ready”. Of course, that if desired, the other side can always say that he accepts the teachings as a preparation for aggression, it all depends on desire.Ultimately, deterrence is not only military plans, weapons and so on. It is primarily psychology. It signals the other side that should influence the decision-making process.— And if the war still starts, that is, deterrence will fail?— In this case, the event can go almost any way. These plans remain classified. The recent decree of Vladimir Putin reveals some scenarios (for example, the possibility of using nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attack against the control systems of nuclear deterrence), but certainly not all.— It is known that Poland sees Russian military exercises as the testing of use of nuclear weapons on its territory. — Leaving aside the question of what almost all the new Russian weapons and has a dual purpose (i.e., it can carry both nuclear and conventional munitions, and most likely we are talking about the testing of non-nuclear scenarios), nothing surprising in this. A state that is allied with the nuclear powers will automatically appear in the number of nuclear targets. That was made clear in the doctrine of 1993, several years before Poland was still a candidate for NATO. So the price of NATO membership was known in advance and, apparently, acceptable.More generally, the criteria of security of the state would be worth to include such a parameter as the number of targets potentially “worthy” of nuclear weapons, on 100 thousand sq. km. During the cold war this parameter was the leader of Germany, now Poland successfully competes for the first place. If for some people the consequences were unexpected, so poorly planned. Can we say that all major public documents, including the recent decree of Vladimir Putin, focused on deterrence?— Yes, their task is to prevent massive use of force against Russia. In fact, as mentioned above, the reliance of NATO on nuclear weapons during the cold war to blame Russia for the offensive nature of nuclear doctrine is equivalent to the charge of NATO in the same. In the framework of the paradigm of deterrence, the question of whether NATO to use force against Russia, does not make sense: deterrence is “in case” if there are such plans. With the same success we can say that during the Cold war NATO did not need to contain the Soviet Union because he was not going to attack. From this point of view, impossible to prove the success of deterrence: we can say that it reached the target, because the enemy was not attacked, but we can say that it is not attacked, because that wasn’t going to. This is a great topic for scientific reasoning, but it has no practical meaning.Understanding the difference between containment (policy of peace) and war is the key to the analysis of the reinterpretation of the Russian nuclear doctrine, which had me��in recent years. Popular in the United States and NATO was the idea that the doctrine of “de-escalation” can be used in offensive purposes.— For example?— Russian attacks in the Baltic country, and when NATO is trying to come to their aid, threatening the limited use of nuclear weapons, which should force NATO to back off. Leaving aside the question of why Russia needs the Baltic countries, an offensive scenario, a good on the pages of Newspapers, but have no relation to reality.Even the question of escalation-de-escalation has a long history. In the 1950’s — early 1960-ies in the United States, attempts have been made to develop scenarios of multistage controlled escalation. In 1962 he was created an interesting document that was giving a scenario of war with the USSR (he was subsequently declassified) about this style: if the Soviets take provocation at the battalion level, we respond to a nuclear bomb; if they do not back down, and raise the level of conflict to the regiment, we meet three bombs, and so as long as they do not return to the status quo. Participant in the development of this document told me that the American military has described these plans as nonsense, because the war is not conducted, and withdrew from work.The Russian message to USA and NATO, formulated in much more General terms. Something like this: if there is large-scale (at the level lower than world war I) non-nuclear attack, it will be very bad. For the purposes of deterrence is much more convincing than detailed scenarios of escalation. Nuclear deterrence in General does not mix well with overly detailed calculations.Developing and partly already deploying nuclear weapons (the same warheads low power) for the purposes of multi-stage controlled escalation, the current administration essentially returns to the beginning of 1960-ies. But the problem is not even that — such capacity in the U.S. will inevitably provoke retaliatory measures. For Moscow the same question: will the United States to have a theoretical possibility, due to the blocking of nuclear options, to conduct non-nuclear war or not? In conditions of acute crisis, all of these theoretical calculations can become a reality, and the errors in the calculations — end full use of all the accumulated nuclear arsenals. Someone, of course, will survive, especially in the southern hemisphere, but that is little consolation.— Yeah, not a very encouraging picture. But the US and its NATO allies either believe that Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons on a limited scale, or to pretend to believe it, but in any case, designing policy and planning in accordance with it. — As well as Russia sincerely believe that the US and NATO can go to the widespread use of non-nuclear weapons. Against mutual distrust eatsü tested means of dialogue. If the parties develop their policies and analyze the actions of another party on my own, it’s not good. The unilateral planning is always performed in the worst case scenario and, as the history of the Cold war, ending the arms race and conflicts. The Cuban missile crisis and many other crises to bail. To avoid such trouble, the parties should maintain contact to ask questions, to answer questions the other hand, to limit armaments, to practice transparency concerning armed forces and their combat training (not to confuse maneuvers with the beginning of the war) and so on.This dialogue has a long history. For example, advice on military doctrines in the mid 1980-ies helped to conclude a Contract SNV-1. After signing the start-3 Treaty in 2010 Russia and the United States periodically held consultations inter-Ministerial group, headed by Deputy foreign Ministers to discuss military doctrines. Usually twice a year, although there were breaks (usually when the US changed the profile of the Deputy Minister, which can take considerable time). This, of course, is not enough — too few meetings were held in order to have a noticeable effect.At the recent (22 June) meeting with Ryabkov—Billingsley, it was decided to establish three working groups, which in itself causes a moderate optimism. One of them is for the discussion of military doctrines. Plus working groups that they can hold meetings more often and accordingly to discuss the issues on the agenda in a more substantive and detailed.— What do you think, will the parties something to agree on?— Will get something out of it or not, time will tell, and not soon. Professionals know that in an election year with the US talks to it — enough that the administration is busy with more important things, nobody knows who will be in the White house next year. So the exchange of views shown, and serious negotiations — no. The fact that negotiations involve concessions, and concessions made during the same administration, the other just put it in your pocket and will require new concessions.