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NATO Resilience and Nuclear Deterrence

A major part of Russia's strategy is to weaken NATO's cohesion and eventually break up the Alliance, and not only because the Alliance is perceived as a threat by Moscow. NATO remains the main obstacle to an expansion of Russian influence in Europe through aggression, intimidation, and subversion. NATO has for decades played a major role in maintaining the strategic status quo in Europe by deterring Russian coercion and aggression and providing a framework for the “denationalization” of the defense policies of the European Allies. Confidence in the reliability of U.S. security commitments, including associated nuclear-sharing arrangements, has led all of the Allies except Britain and France to refrain from pursuing nuclear weapons and to rely on protection under the “nuclear umbrella” of U.S. extended deterrence.

This study will investigate NATO's resilience, notably with regard to nuclear deterrence, in the face of Russian efforts to erode Alliance cohesion and unity. The study will address the following questions: What steps has Russia taken in recent years to develop a spectrum of capabilities and measures to degrade the Alliance's unity and resilience? In what areas - and to what extent - has Russia achieved success in undermining the Alliance's resilience? To what extent has Russia been able to contribute to weakened support for the Alliance's nuclear deterrence posture? To what extent - and in what circumstances - could Russian nuclear threats and associated messaging challenge NATO's resilience? How do America's NATO Allies assess Russian threats to NATO's resilience, particularly in the nuclear domain?
NPS Naval Research Program
NPS Naval Research Program