Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Russia

Last Reviewed
January 2024

As of early 2024, Russia’s nuclear arsenal is estimated to comprise 5,580 warheads, including approximately 1,200 that have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement. It is estimated that of the 4,380 warheads in Russia’s active nuclear arsenal, 1,710 strategic warheads are deployed. 870 are deployed on land-based ballistic missiles, 640 on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and potentially 200 at heavy bomber bases. 1,112 warheads are in storage and the remaining 1,558 are nonstrategic according to the Federation of Atomic Scientists.



Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards             

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Negative Security Assurances 

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Ballistic Missile Defense Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine


Biological Weapons              

Chemical Weapons              

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
  • New START
  • Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties




Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty



Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty



Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)



CPPNM 2005 Amendment



Chemical Weapons Convention



Biological Weapons Convention



International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism



* Russia revoked its ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in November 2023.

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Australia GroupNot a member, but Russia claims to adhere to the group’s rules and control list
Missile Technology Control RegimeMember
Nuclear Suppliers GroupMember
Wassenaar ArrangementMember
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional ProtocolSigned in 2000, entered into force in 2007
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear TerrorismCo-founder with the United States
Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile ProliferationParticipant
Proliferation Security InitiativeNot a participant. Previously participated until 2023.
UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673Russia has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states
Nuclear Security SummitsAttended in 2010, 2012, 2014

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Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Negative Security Assurances

ZoneProtocol Ratification Status
The Treaty of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean)Ratified
The Treaty of Rarotonga (South Pacific)Ratified
The Treaty of Bangkok (Southeast Asia)Not ratified
The Treaty of Pelindaba (Africa)Ratified
Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone TreatyRatified

For an introduction to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, see our factsheet.

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

As of early 2024, the Federation of American Scientists estimated that Russia possesses a nuclear arsenal consisting of a total of 5,580 warheads, including approximately 1,112 strategic and 1,558 non-strategic warheads in storage, and approximately 1,200 warheads that have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement. Under New START, Russia can deploy no more than 1,550 treaty accountable warheads until February 2026 when the treaty expires. As of early 2024, Russia had 1,710 strategic deployed warheads and 588 deployed strategic delivery systems.

According to the Pentagon, Russia has an active stockpile of up to 2,000 tactical (non-strategic) nuclear warheads, a much larger number than the United States' 100 tactical nuclear weapons, which are deployed in Europe. The United States and Russia have a comparable number of strategic nuclear weapons.

Delivery Systems

For information on Russian Ballistic Missiles, see our fact sheet on worldwide ballistic missiles inventories.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM)


  • Russia is capable of delivering up to 992 warheads through SLBMs loaded on Delta IV-class and Borey-class submarines. The Borey-class is gradually replacing older Delta IV submarines. Because one or two submarines are typically undergoing maintenance, repair, or refueling, the total number of deployed warheads at sea is closer to 640. 
    • Delta IV class
      • Five Delta IV-class submarines are in service.
      • Part of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
      • Armed with 16 R-29RMU2.1 Liner missiles (an upgraded RSM-54 Sineva, or SS-N-23 Skiff, design).
    • Borey class and Borey-A class
      • Three Borey-class and four Borey-A-class submarines are in service. 
      • Five more Borey-A-class submarines are planned, and will completely replace the Delta IV submarines in the 2030s.
      • Armed with 16 RSM-56 Bulava missiles.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM):

  • Russia’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles include the RSM-54 and RSM-56. There are reportedly a total of 192 missile launchers on all SSBNs.
    • RSM-54 (R-29RMU2 or SS-N-23 M2 Sineva and R-29RMU2.1 or SS-N-23 M3 Liner)
      • Sineva deployed in 2007; the upgraded Liner variant likely deployed in 2014. 
      • Equipped with four 100 kt MIRVs, 8,000+ km range. 
      • Some have speculated that the upgraded Liner missile can be equipped with up to 10 warheads, however, other estimates put the number at 4 warheads. It is likely to be typically loaded with 4 warheads to comply with New START limits.
    • RSM-56 (SS-N-32 Bulava)
      • Deployed in 2014.
      • Equipped with six 100 kt MIRVs, 8,000+ km range.
      • Since its inaugural test in 2004, the Bulava missile has a long record of failed launches, the most recent being in 2016.  

Strategic Bombers

  • As of 2024, the Russian Air Force operates 67 long-range bombers which can carry a total of 586 warheads.
    • Tu-95 MS/MSM
      • Capable of carrying nuclear Kh-55 (AS-15A) and Kh-102 (AS-23B) strategic cruise missiles. 
    • Tu-160 
      • Capable of carrying Kh-55 (AS-15B) and Kh-102 (AS-23B) strategic cruise missiles or 12 Kh-15 (AS-16) short range attack missiles. 
  • The two Tu-95 variants and the Tu-160 are categorized as strategic heavy bombers and are limited by New START. 
  • All three bomber types can be equipped with gravity bombs. It is unknown whether the Tu-160 is presently assigned to deliver gravity bombs, and it is unlikely the Tu-95 would be assigned that mission given its low speed and survivability. 
  • The Russian Air Force also operates a multipurpose medium-range supersonic bomber, the Tu-22M, which is considered a tactical nuclear delivery platform for various types of cruise missiles and is not limited by New START.
  • Russia has begun studying designs for a next-generation of strategic bombers meant to replace the entire fleet of Tu-95s, Tu-160s, and Tu-22Ms. The new bomber program is expected to develop a prototype by the early 2020s.
New Strategic Systems
Russia is also working on the development of a range of new strategic-range weapons:
  • Avangard, a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, which can be carried by the Sarmat “super-heavy” ICBM.
  • Kinzhal, an air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile which can perform evasive maneuvers.
  • Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile “of unlimited range.”
  • Poseidon, a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle “of unlimited range.”
  • Tsirkon, a sea-launched hypersonic missile.

Ballistic Missile Defense Systems

Russia is expanding and upgrading its air and missile defense systems. The A-135 strategic ballistic missile defense system has been operational around Moscow since 1995, when it replaced the 1970s-era A-35 Galosh system. The A-135, like its predecessor, is equipped with nuclear-tipped interceptors. A planned successor, the A-235 Nudol, will likely use conventional kinetic hit-to-kill interceptors. 
Russia operates and exports several families of non-strategic air defense systems, each consisting of multiple variants and upgrades. These include the S-300P, S-300V, and S-400 systems. The S-500 system is in development. More information can be found here

Fissile Material

Russia has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material (highly enriched uranium [HEU] and plutonium) for weapons purposes.

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The Kremlin announced a halt to HEU production for weapons in 1989 and the cessation of plutonium production for weapons in 1994.
  • At the end of 2016, Russia’s HEU stockpile was estimated at 679 metric tons, with a margin of error of 120 metric tons (making it, absent the margin of error, the largest HEU stockpile). Approximately 20 metric tons are designated for civilian use, the second largest stockpile of civilian HEU after the United States.
  • Russia concluded a joint program in 2013, the U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement, in which Moscow downblended 500 metric tons of its excess weapons grade HEU into a reactor fuel unsuitable for bombs that it then sold to the United States as light water reactor fuel.
  • A second U.S. funded program, the Material Conversion and Consolidation project (MCC), blended down 16.8 metric tons of HEU by the end of 2014.


  • In April 2010, Russia closed its last plutonium production facility.
  • In 2012, the last weapon-grade plutonium reprocessing plant Zheleznogorsk was shut down.
  • Its total plutonium stockpile is, as of the beginning of 2022, estimated at 192 metric tons, with an 8 metric ton margin of error.
  • The weapons-grade stockpile is estimated at 128 ± 8 metric tons.
  • 63.5 metric tons of separated reactor-grade plutonium are declared for civilian use.
  • Russia committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, beginning in 2018, under a 2000 agreement with the United States entitled the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA).
  • However, in October 2016, Russia, citing the U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, suspended its implementation of the deal and conditioned the resumption of implementation on the lifting of all U.S. sanctions against Russia and a restructuring of NATO’s forces.
  • Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because this alternative method would not change the composition of the plutonium from weapons-grade to reactor-grade.        

Proliferation Record 

  • The United States and independent analysts have long cited Russia as a key supplier of nuclear and missile-related goods and technology to a variety of countries, including states of proliferation concern such as Iran and Syria.
  • In response, the United States has often levied sanctions on Russian entities believed to be involved in such proliferation activities.
  • Beginning in the mid-2000s, the number and frequency of Russian entities placed under U.S. proliferation sanctions declined, possibly as a result of an increasing Russian commitment to controlling sensitive exports; however, that number has greatly increased since 2014.
  • Russia remains a source of illicit sensitive technology pertaining to missile proliferation.
  • The vast former Soviet biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons complexes, including their former scientists, have also been seen as a potential source of arms, materials, and knowledge for other regimes or non-state actors. The United States and other countries have pursued programs dedicated to mitigating this potential threat by helping Russia and other former Soviet states secure or destroy facilities, materials, and weapon systems, and gainfully employ former scientists in non-arms related work.
  • However, there has been a significant decline in U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation since 2013, despite continued cooperation in cleaning out weapon-grade material from third countries such as Poland in 2016.
  • After suspending the PMDA, Russia likewise suspended its participation in a 2013 cooperative agreement on nuclear and energy related research and terminated a third agreement from 2010 on exploring options for converting research reactors from weapons-usable fuel.


Nuclear Doctrine

In 2020, Russia publicly expounded on the circumstances under which it might employ nuclear weapons in a policy document on nuclear deterrence signed. The 2020 document, called “Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” marks the first time Russia has consolidated and publicly released its nuclear deterrence policy, which previously was classified. Public discussion of nuclear doctrine was instead previously included in statements of military doctrine, updated in 2014, 2010, and 2000. 

The December 2014 edition of Russia’s military doctrine stated that Russia “reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to aggression against the Russian Federation that utilizes conventional weapons that threatens the very existence of the state.” The 2000 military doctrine differed slightly in its description of the latter scenario, as it instead allowed nuclear use in response to conventional attacks in “situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.” 

The two additional scenarios contained in the 2020 document include an “arrival [of] reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies” or an “attack by [an] adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions.” (See ACT July/August, 2020).

U.S. Defense Department officials have said that Russian doctrine includes a so-called “escalate to de-escalate” strategy, which envisions the limited first use of nuclear weapons to attempt to end a large-scale conventional conflict on terms favorable to Russia. However, some experts have called into question whether “escalate to de-escalate” is part of Russian doctrine.



For information on Russian nuclear testing, see our fact sheet here.

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Biological Weapons

  • The Soviet Union maintained an extensive offensive germ weapons program, including research into plague, anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, glanders, and hemorrhagic fever.
  • The United States has repeatedly voiced concern over the status of Russia’s inherited Soviet germ warfare program. However, in 2011, Russia maintained that it is in compliance with the BWC.
  • Nonetheless, the State Department in April 2021 claimed that Russia maintains "an offensive [Biological Weapons (BW)] program and is in violation of its obligation under Articles I and II of the [Biological Weapons Convention]." 
  • In 2024, the State Department asserted that "the knowledge and capabilities Russia has retained from its inherited program have enabled it to develop a highly capable state BW program, able to produce and    
    deploy BW agents to support a range of military objectives."

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Chemical Weapons

  • Upon entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on Dec. 5, 1997, Russia declared that it possessed approximately 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents, the largest amount in the world at the time.
  • The State Department stated in 2016 that it “cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention: for declaration of its CWPFs [chemical weapons production facilities]; its CW development facilities; or its CW stockpiles.”
  • On Sept. 27, 2017, the OPCW announced that Russia had completed the destruction of its declared chemical weapons arsenal.
  • Subsequently, however, the Russian Federation has been accused of using chemical weapons in both assassinations and warfare. 
  • The UK accused Russia of attempting the assassination of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in the UK using the chemical agent Novichok in March 2018. Two years later, the European Union accused the Russian government of using a Novichok agent to poison Russian dissident Alexei Navalny in an August 2020 attack.
  • The U.S. State Department accused Russia in 2024 of using riot control agents in military operations against Ukraine, in violation of the CWC. Ukraine has also accused Russia of deploying Chloropicrin, a banned irritant gas, on the battlefield. (See ACT, June 2024.)

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities


Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty              
In 2014, the United States accused Russia of developing a missile that violated the INF Treaty. Following several years of mutual accusations and diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue, the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the INF treaty in August 2019. 

For more information on the INF Treaty, visit the "INF Treaty at a Glance" fact sheet.


New START              
Russia suspended its participation in New START on February 28, 2023. The U.S. State Department stated in a January 2024 report that, although it was no longer able to conduct inspections in Russia, the "United States assesses that the Russian Federation likely did not exceed the New START Treaty’s deployed warhead limit in 2023."


For more information on New START, see our fact sheet here.


For more current updates on the future of the treaty, follow ACT reporting.


Conference on Disarmament (CD)              
The Conference on Disarmament is made up of 65 member states and is the sole negotiating body for multilateral nuclear disarmament. During these negotiations, Russia has placed some priority on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).


For more current updates following the CD, follow ACT reporting.


Syrian Chemical Weapons              
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, Russia reached an agreement with the United States to account for, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. The United States later accused Russia of potentially assisting the Syrian government in its use of chemical weapons during April 2018.


For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.