Declassified: The Soviet Union Considered Using Nuclear Weapons against China during 1969 Border Clashes

A declassified Department of State report dated September 4, 1969 detailed statements made by a Soviet military officer to a U.S. Army Attache concerning plans for the possible use of nuclear weapons against China during a series of 1969 border clashes. In the event that China attacked Russia with “major forces,” the Russians would allow Chinese forces to advance into Russian territory and then use tactical nuclear weapons against them. Although the Soviet officer claimed that tactical nuclear weapons would only be used within Russian territory, additional reports about Soviet mobilization of nuclear armed missile units nearby Russian-Chinese border clash areas most likely contributed to China’s first and only known high-level nuclear alert status one month later.

Department of State

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