Russia issues nuclear warning as Trump’s Space Force sparks angry response from Moscow

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The move, coming just weeks after Mr Trump unveiled his Space Force, the space warfare branch of the US military forces, will set alarm bells ringing about the danger of opening up a new theatre of war – with uncanny parallels to a similar situation in the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed a new policy document outlining Russia’s policy on its nuclear deterrent, and it was published online amid arms control tensions between Russia and the United States over the future of New START, the last major treaty which regulates their massive nuclear arsenals.

The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a deterrent, the use of which is an extreme emergency measure

Russia policy document

The report highlights the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as one of the main military threats to Russia.

While there was no immediate indication Russia had plans for a space force of its own, the document made it clear it was ready to defend itself.

It explained: “The Russian Federation considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a deterrent, the use of which is an extreme emergency measure, and is making all necessary efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and prevent the aggravation of interstate relations that could provoke military conflicts, including nuclear ones.”

In a reference to the mutually assured destruction model for preventing nuclear war, the report characterises deterrence as being aimed at making the potential adversary aware of the inevitability of retaliation for aggression.

As such, it emphasises Moscow’s preparedness to use nuclear weapons either in response to a similar attack, or in the event of a threat to the existence of the state.

Mr Trump officially launched the United States Space Force on December 20, creating the first new branch of the US military since the creation of the US Air Force 1947.

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Comparisons were immediately made with Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative programme, and rapidly dubbed Star Wars, which he unveiled in March 1983, a system aimed at protecting the United States from attack by ballistic strategic nuclear weapons.

The project came at a time of soaring tension, with Russia alarmed at the prospect of something which could apparently upset the balance of power so significantly.

The following November, the world is generally regarded to have come as close to nuclear war as it has done since the Cuban Missile Crisis as a result of Russia paranoia about Operation Able Archer, a NATO military exercise in western Europe which Moscow feared was a pretext for an invasion.

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Assessing the Space Force’s objectives, Space Combat Training Squadron commander Lt Col Daniel Sebeck said it would produce “lethal warfighters ready to execute combat operations in the complex space environment of today and tomorrow”.

He added: “Our modern lives depend on our space capabilities, and potential adversaries are actively attempting to exploit the benefits space provides us.

“Every day our space warfighters purposefully prepare to negate potential adversaries’ attempts to claim space superiority over us.”

Writing in January, John Feffer, director of the Foreign Policy in Focus project at US-based think tank the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), said: “What the United States is doing now with the new Space Force is the worst kind of response to the problem of the increased militarisation of space.

“It is creating an imaginary ‘space gap’ that the United States has to pour money into closing, just like the various missile and bomber gaps of the late twentieth century.

“It will increase the risk of conflict in space, not reduce it.”

“The Space Force is a huge white elephant, worse than the Reagan-era missile defence system dubbed Star Wars.

“In fact, it’s Star Wars without end, sequel after sequel hitting military theatres near you.

“Even in the unlikely event that all is quiet on the terrestrial front, the new Space Force and its promise to keep the universe safe from bad guys will serve to justify astronomical Pentagon budgets for decades to come.”

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