Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin.
Russia

Putin Signs Policy Allowing Nuclear Response To Conventional Strikes

It means Russian nuclear weapons are allowed to be used after a conventional strike that "threatens the very existence of the state".

Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a new policy that allows him to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional strike on certain key Russian infrastructure.

Mr Putin's endorsement of the nuclear deterrent policy means he is allowed to use atomic weapons following a non-nuclear attack on the nation's vital government and military infrastructure. 

New, expanded wording of the document reflects Kremlin concerns over the US' ability to develop non-nuclear weapons with the ability to knock out key military assets and government facilities.

The updated document now states nuclear weapons could be used in response to a nuclear attack or a strike involving conventional weapons that "threatens the very existence of the state".

It adds a nuclear response could follow “reliable information” over the launch of ballistic missiles against Russia or its allies.

US-Russia relations are currently at a post-Cold War low.

Tensions between the two countries have heightened since the Ukrainian crisis and there have been accusations of Russian meddling in the US 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile, last year the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty collapsed after both nations withdrew. 

Amid the tensions, Russia has repeatedly voiced concern about the deployment of US and allied NATO forces in the Baltics near Russian borders.

The only US-Russia nuclear arms control agreement still standing is the 2010 New Start treaty.

The pact limits each country to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Russia has offered to extend the New Start expiry date in February 2021, resisting the Trump administration's call for a new pact that would also include China.

Cover image: Vladimir Putin (Picture: PA).