The U.S. Department of Defense says that despite the attempts to sustain a positive relationship with Russia, the country perceives the United States and NATO as its principal opponent and impediment to realizing its destabilizing geopolitical goals in Eurasia, according to the nuclear posture review published by the Defense Department.
“Most concerning are Russia’s national security policies, strategy, and doctrine that include an emphasis on the threat of limited nuclear escalation, and its continuing development and fielding of increasingly diverse and expanding nuclear capabilities. Moscow threatens and exercises limited nuclear first use, suggesting a mistaken expectation that coercive nuclear threats or limited first use could paralyze the United States and NATO and thereby end a conflict on terms favorable to Russia,” the report says.
These tactics are sometimes referred to as “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine. “De-escalation” in this sense follows from Moscow’s mistaken assumption of Western capitulation on terms favorable to Moscow.
“Our strategy will ensure Russia understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable,” the doctrine summed up.