Washington: Given the aggressive activities of Russia and China, Admiral Charles Richard, the head of the US Strategic Command (STATCOM) has warned that ‘There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons’. The Commander suggested to the US leadership to be wary and change its policy accordingly. Admiral Richard also drew attention to cyberattacks from the two countries, as well as threats in space.
As the Strategic Command is fully responsible for nuclear weapons in the United States, the statements made by its Commander about nuclear war hold much significance. Admiral Richard has clarified his stance in Proceedings, a magazine published by the US Naval Institute. In an article titled ‘Forging 21st Century Strategic Deterrence’, the head of Strategic Command has referred to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Admiral Richards admitted that since then, the US Department of Defense had ruled out the possibility of a direct nuclear war with another country.
However, the STATCOM commander underscored that the US armed forces had been forced to change their policy, considering the Russian and Chinese activities in the past few years. ‘The aggressive moves of Russia and China have posed a challenge to the international order and peace. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, there has been an aggressive use of power and military force, including cyber-attacks and threats in space,’ said Admiral Richard.
The head of the US Strategic Command has warned that ‘Both Russia and China have significantly increased their capabilities. The countries may conclude that something lost in a traditional conflict is a direct threat to their state. In that case, there is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons.’ He also suggested that the US armed forces needed to change the perception that a nuclear war was not possible, accept that fact and prepare for it.
US officials also claim that both Russia and China are increasing their lethal capabilities by taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Admiral Richard noted that Russia had begun modernizing its nuclear arsenal more than a decade ago, which is now about 70 per cent complete. Simultaneously, the STATCOM Commander pointed out that Russia is also developing unique systems such as hypersonic vehicles and nuclear torpedoes.
US Strategic Command Commander, Admiral Richard, asserted that they cannot underestimate China’s nuclear capabilities either and that the country is emerging as a major US strategic rival.