Can you even understand what the next war might be like? How reliably did the leaders of states and military leaders imagine what the First World War or the Second World War (WWII) would look like, and how did their predictions coincide with reality during the conduct of these wars?
In different historical periods, the emergence of new weapons caused a kind of euphoria, which led to the birth of theories about the need for a significant bias in favor of one or another type of weapon. Suffice it to recall the doctrine of General Giulio Douet, who assumed that the war could only be won aviation, and intended exclusively for bombing peaceful cities, while it was proposed to abandon front-line aviation, air defense fighters and anti-aircraft artillery in principle.
The Douai doctrine assumed that bombers were to become the main weapon, to the detriment of other types of weapons.
In the real world, it turned out that bombing alone is unlikely to break the enemy's resistance and you can "bomb" until the moment when Tanks the enemy, supported by fighters and attack aircraft, will roll onto your airfields.
Sometimes the emergence of new forecasts and doctrines is facilitated by a change in the geopolitical situation, as in the case of the United States in the 90s of the XX century, in which, after the collapse of the USSR, the prevailing opinion was that the United States no longer had major geopolitical adversaries and in the development of weapons it was necessary to focus more on conducting local conflicts - in fact, colonial wars with an obviously weaker enemy. During this period, the United States actively experimented in the field of weapons, which led to the emergence of some specific types of weapons.
Ships Littoral combat ship (LCS) - American ugly ducklings fleet
As if already at that time it was not clear that China had “sunk the pedal to the floor,” and Russia many times presented surprises to those who wished for its final collapse and degradation. However, the awareness of reality partly returned with the arrival of President D. Trump: for the first time since the Cold War, the possibility of confrontation between the great powers in the format of a “big war” returns to the US military doctrine.
So what kind of military conflicts can Russia be involved in?
There are diametrically opposed opinions regarding nuclear weapons... Some believe that nuclear weapons are practically useless, since, except for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they have not been used anywhere else, and it is necessary to maximize the development of conventional forces, leaving a limited number of nuclear charges "just in case." Others believe that in the presence of nuclear weapons, general-purpose forces are needed only for conducting counter-guerrilla actions, and in the event of a conflict with a developed power, nuclear weapons, at least tactical, should be immediately used.
Obviously, the truth lies somewhere in between. On the one hand, it is precisely nuclear weapons that prevent potential adversaries from starting a war against Russia, most likely already “yesterday”. Even now, if the Russian Federation did not have nuclear weapons, military provocations with violation of borders would be an integral part of our reality.
Nuclear arsenals of the countries of the world
As weak or corrupt as the country's leadership may be, it is unlikely that it will want to share the fate of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi. Even the first president of Russia B.N. Yeltsin, despite all the concessions to Western countries, clearly did not want to be left without nuclear weapons, which can now be viewed as "the last argument of kings."
Realizing the importance of nuclear weapons, a potential adversary will always look for an opportunity to neutralize our nuclear potential, as with the help promising systems for delivering a sudden disarming strikeand with the help global ballistic missile defense (missile defense).
It is necessary to clearly understand that in the current historical period Russia is unable to create conventional forces capable of withstanding the combined forces of the NATO bloc in a non-nuclear conflict. That is, if the enemy successfully delivers a sudden disarming strike, the subsequent resistance of the conventional armed forces of the Russian Federation is likely to be broken.
The balance of forces between Russia and NATO
An increase in the proportion of the urban population and its dependence on communal infrastructure will allow the United States and its allies to shoot Russian cities in accordance with the aforementioned Douai doctrine. It is far from a fact that the population of the Russian Federation, and most other developed countries, will agree to endure hardships for many years in order to preserve territorial integrity, for example, to preserve the Crimea, the Kuril Islands or Kaliningrad, if such requirements are a formal reason for war.
The decommissioning of large power plants will lead to catastrophic consequences for the population and industry of any developed country.
Possible scenarios of a nuclear war
Three potentially possible scenarios for a nuclear war involving the Russian Federation can be assumed:
1. A global nuclear war, when there is a full-fledged exchange of strikes between the United States and Russia, at the same time goes to the rest of the world.
2. A limited nuclear war with the United States or another country (coalition of countries), when nuclear warheads are used, for example, only at foreign or remote military bases, against the fleet and aviation located in neutral waters (airspace). May precede scenario # 1.
3. A limited nuclear war, in which the Russian Federation delivers a sudden disarming strike against an enemy with an insignificant nuclear arsenal and threatening to use it against Russia.
In all other scenarios, the use of nuclear weapons by our country is unlikely. Even in the event of a serious conflict with a sufficiently strong country, for example, with Japan over the Kuril Islands or Turkey for whatever, we will not be the first to strike a nuclear strike, since the political consequences and subsequent economic consequences will significantly outweigh the benefits of a quick victory. Other countries did not use nuclear weapons in a similar situation, for example, Great Britain against Argentina in the Falklands conflict, although the British had a very real chance to part with "real estate" on the other side of the planet.
The war for the Falkland Islands between Argentina and Great Britain was fought only with conventional weapons. In the photo - the burning British destroyer "Sheffield"
Why is it necessary to separate these three types of nuclear conflicts? Because each of them dictates its own requirements for the nuclear arsenal. A global conflict requires a nuclear arsenal that is highly resistant to a sudden disarming enemy strike... A limited nuclear war requires tactical nuclear weapons that can be used against the fleet and aircraft, as well as delivery vehicles that can be retargeted or canceled at any time. And the task of delivering a sudden disarming strike imposes increased requirements on the accuracy and minimization of the flight time of nuclear warheads.
Multipurpose nuclear submarines (SSNS) "Virginia" can become an effective weapon for a sudden disarming strike, provided they are equipped with a hypersonic complex Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) with nuclear equipment
In Russia, this problem can be partially solved by the modernized project 885M SSNS with the Zircon hypersonic missiles (adjusted for the shorter range of the Zircon missiles)
How can events develop?
Let's make a reservation right away that we are not considering the option of "draining" the country by the leadership, since in this case nothing makes sense at all: neither the laying of new ships, nor the purchase of tanks and aircraft, nor the development of advanced weapons. We believe that the country's leadership is adequate, capable of making tough decisions and has the political will to carry out these decisions.
Third scenario at the moment the least real, however, it cannot be abandoned. Who is eligible for potential targets? India, Pakistan, North Korea. The fact that we now have no disagreements with them does not mean that they will not arise later. Perhaps there will be someone else, in possible candidates for the possession of a nuclear arsenal Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Sweden. Given the historical unpredictability of the development of relations between countries, when yesterday's allies become enemies, the task of suppressing the limited nuclear arsenal of a potential adversary should be taken into account when building Russian nuclear forces.
As a possible scenario: no matter how bad the United States is as a "global gendarme", they do not want to get competitors with nuclear weapons and are actively preventing this. In 1963, when only four states had nuclear arsenals, the US government predicted that 15 to 25 states would emerge with nuclear weapons over the coming decade. Should there be a crisis in the United States comparable to the collapse of the USSR, the balance of power in the world could change significantly. The EU already, while China is still unlikely to be able to control the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons in the world, Russia has its own problems, and there is no such global influence as the USSR. The emerging "power vacuum" may lead to the birth of a couple of new nuclear powers, which will increase the likelihood of Scenario # 3 being implemented.
Second script can develop as a result of a coincidence or deliberate provocation. For example, a shootout began between Russian and American military personnel in Syria - the advantage is on our side. The US military calls in aircraft to strike at our convoy, and in response we shoot down several US aircraft, including AWACS.
If the situation does not stop there, the United States is launching a massive attack on our base in Syria, possibly sinking several ships in the Mediterranean. At this stage, we will no longer have the resources to continue hostilities without the use of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW), since the United States has several orders of magnitude more foreign bases and high-precision weapons. Direct "exchange" will lead to the complete depletion of our conventional forces, which may just be the goal of the United States.
Accordingly, at first, TNW can only be used against the US Navy, for which it makes no sense to respond symmetrically (to use TNW against our ships), since their capabilities allow us to destroy our fleet without this, but they cannot ignore the fact of an attack by TNW. Consequently, they can use TNW both against Russian military bases abroad and against remote military bases located on the territory of the Russian Federation at a great distance from large cities, while striking with conventional weapons at some important objects in the depths of the territory.
After that, the Russian SNF can begin to “close” American bases around the world, regardless of whose territory they are located on (of course, unless it is a nuclear power in itself). Possibly, nuclear strikes will be carried out symmetrically on bases in the United States with a minimum population, for example, somewhere in Alaska.
Perhaps this will be the last frontier, beyond which either the parties can stop, or the nuclear war will develop into a global one according to the first scenario.
Alternative implementation of scenario No.2 is a full-scale attack by a strong nuclear power in its classic version: ground forces, navy, aviation, with the aim of appropriating part of the territory. Something similar to what happened in the last century on Damansky Island, but several orders of magnitude more intense. Our relations with the PRC can now be described as partnership relations, and with the pressure exerted by the United States on China, they will remain so in the foreseeable future. But for all this, we must take into account not political relations, but the actual military capabilities of the PRC. In the event that the United States loses its dominant position in the world, China will quickly restore full control over Taiwan, knock Japan and other countries in the region off the disputed islands, and then, most likely, will turn its attention to us.
Comparison of the military capabilities of the United States, Russia and China
There are strong doubts that such an option can be implemented by the NATO bloc. The United States is unlikely to dare to invade on the ground without a powerful ally on the European continent. At the time of WWII, it was the USSR, but now they do not have one. The "old" Europeans are unlikely to have a desire to try again all the delights of a ground invasion of Russia, while the "Young Europeans" are physically incapable of realizing this.
The first script - global nuclear war. Contrary to popular belief, it will not lead to the death of all living things. Even humanity is likely to survive, although it will be thrown back in development for several hundred years.
A global nuclear war may be launched by the United States, believing in its ability to destroy the Russian nuclear potential with a sudden disarming strike and in the ability of the global missile defense system to stop accidentally surviving warheads. Or a global nuclear war may become a continuation of a limited nuclear war according to scenario No. 2 if, after the use of TNW, the conflicting parties cannot or do not want to stop. In theory, there is the possibility of accidentally unleashing a nuclear war due to malfunctions of missile attack warning systems (EWS), hacker attacks or something like that, especially if one of the parties is in a systemic crisis with weakened state power.
In the next article, we will consider possible scenarios of conflicts using only conventional weapons, in which the Russian Federation may be involved.