The concept of space security first appeared during the Cold War, in the context of the space race between the USA and the USSR. Since the 1990s, the number of space actors has significantly increased, including new national, international and private stakeholders. Space technologies, especially satellites, have gained importance for several aspects of everyday life, and are crucial for commercial purposes, public services and military operations. Particularly in the latter case, space technologies represent a major asset for communication, surveillance and planning.
The world is experiencing the fourth industrial revolution. Significant progress in computing power is facilitating the development of many new and ground-breaking technologies (Kroenig, 2021, p. 59). Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of these technologies that increasingly impacts society, as well as military operations. In the next quarter century, AI and other emerging technologies are also expected to have a massive effect on international security and strategic stability (Geist & Lohn, 2018, p. 1). They are already reshaping the global nuclear order and our understanding of nuclear strategy and deterrence (Futter, 2020, p. 27).
After the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson in August, on the 21th of September Putin launched a call for “partial mobilisation” of Russian men between the ages of 18 and 50, with the aim of enlisting 300,000 soldiers amongst the reservists and former military personnel (Il Post, 2022). Three weeks later, the recruitment operation is said to have enlisted over 200,000 people, as stated by the Russian Defence Minister Shoigu (Cancian, 2022) (Il Post, 2022). Even if it is early to say, Russia is calculating whether the new recruits should be sent to the front without proper training as “cannon fodder” (Bathon, 2022), or whether to send them to the 80 camps and 6 training centres outlined by the Russian Defence Minister (Il Post, 2022). Currently the decision appears to be somewhere in between the two, with some of the recruits trained for fewer than three days before being sent to the front, while others completing the training phase.
On 21 September, Russian Federation’s President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilisation of Russian citizens to reinforce Moscow’s military deployment in the Russian war in Ukraine (Ellyatt, 2022). In his speech, Putin remarked that Russia will protect its territorial integrity with ‘all the means at [our] disposal’ (The Washington Post, 2022). The statement struck fear in the West, as the nuclear threat lurks over Europe. With the usage of nuclear weapons being now a tangible risk, questions have been again raised about the legal status of such armaments under current international law.
The term ‘non-strategic nuclear weapon’ (NSNW) includes nuclear warheads for all delivery systems such as gravity bombs for aircraft other than nuclear-capable heavy bombers, nuclear warheads for naval cruise missiles and torpedoes, and nuclear warheads for anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and air defence systems. The NSNWs term would also capture any nuclear warheads for surface-to-surface missiles with less-than-50 kilometres ranges, and nuclear artillery shells.