Russia's Nuclear Program

Russia became the world's second nuclear weapon state after it tested its first device at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan on 29 August 1949.

Today it is one of five recognized nuclear weapon states under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a status which it inherited as the legal successor of the Soviet Union. The Cold War arms race also resulted in the Soviet Union accumulating a vast arsenal of strategic and non-strategic (also known as "tactical") nuclear weapons.

Strategic Nuclear Weapons Capabilities According to the most recent New START data exchange (22 February 2018),

Russia deploys 1,444 strategic warheads on 527 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers.

The actual number of deployed Russian warheads is likely higher since the treaty counts one strategic bomber as one operationally deployed warhead even though, for example, the Tu095 MS16 bomber can carry up to sixteen weapons.

[One open-source estimate from April 2018 put the actual number of operational Russian warheads at 1,600, with a further 920 strategic warheads in storage.



Nuclear Force Modernization Russia is currently in the process of modernizing and recapitalizing its entire arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

In February 2011, Vladimir Popovkin, Russia's First Deputy Minister of Defense, announced that Moscow would spend about $70 billion on Russia's strategic nuclear forces between 2011 and 2020. 

Due to the recent downturn in Russia's economy, however, some analysts expect its modernization plan to face shortfalls in funding. [ This modernization involves the development of several new systems, all of which Russia indicates it is designing to counter the deployment of a U.S./NATO missile defense architecture in Europe or elsewhere.

Russian enterprises are working on a new ICBM, in addition to the ongoing production and deployment of the RS-24 Yars, for the Strategic Rocket Forces. The new missile, called the RS-28 Sarmat, is a liquid-fueled, silo-based heavy ICBM intended to replace the R-36M2 (SS-18 Satan).

The new missile, called the RS-28 Sarmat, is a liquid-fueled, silo-based heavy ICBM intended to replace the R-36M2 (SS-18 Satan). The missile is scheduled to enter service in 2020, but this seems unlikely due to the program’s repeated setbacks; flight testing only began in late 2017. [33] Two additional ICBM development programs are currently suspended. Work on the Barguzin, a rail-mobile ICBM under development since 2013, was suspended in late 2017 to refocus funding on the Sarmat and the RS-26 Rubezh, a small, lightweight road-mobile ICBM.

Work on the Rubezh itself was suspended in March 2018, despite being successfully tested and declared ready for deployment in March 2015.  The U.S. government has repeatedly raised concerns that the Rubezh might be intended to circumvent the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.