Secretary of Defense Mark Esper oversaw a tabletop war game exercise two weeks ago where Russian military forces used a “tactical” nuclear weapon against NATO territory during a conflict in Europe, prompting the US to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike. The exercise prompted a flurry of reactions from Russia and US allies alike.
Russian politicians expressed anger at the exercise and accused the Pentagon of “reckless nuclear fear-mongering”,
The disparity between Russian and American capabilities recently led the Trump administration to develop and deploy the first new US nuclear weapon in decades, a submarine-launched low yield weapon known as the W76-II.
The weapon arguably promotes deterrence by demonstrating American retaliation capabilities. However, European allies are concerned that the weapon would merely lower the threshold of nuclear weapons use and encourage their deployment.