Policy Memos

'Kosovo Syndrome' and the Great Nuclear Debate of 2000

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:




In the summer of 2000, a long-simmering conflict within the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) burst into the open in a series of leaks to the media that culminated in a stormy meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense (an assembly of the top brass) on July 12. The center of contention was a proposal by the General Staff, under the leadership of its chief, Anatoly Kvashnin, for a dramatic shift of emphasis away from nuclear weapons toward conventional forces. Reports about this conflict generated anticipation of a fundamental "denuclearization" of Russian defense policy. The debate was transferred to a higher level, to the Security Council, and at the moment of this writing is not over. One meeting of that body after another was postponed: the July 27 meeting was conducted August 11 and the September 27 one was rescheduled for November. In the meantime, the emphasis has gradually shifted from the future of the nuclear arsenal toward broader issues of military reform. [...]

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About the author

Senior Fellow
Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation