Where the US Star Wars project was developed in reaction to a threat from outer space, the anticipated reappearance of the 12th Planet, the Russians preceded the US in deploying defensive space technology. The race to space had multiple motives, among them supporting commercial telecommunications and research, spying from on high, affording an unobstructed astronomical view, and preparing to colonize space. Beyond the public agendas were hidden agendas too numerous to mention. The military in both the US and Russia were breathless just contemplating the possibilities. However, using space for aggression is a double-edged sword, which the sober minded argued effectively against and thus neither the Russian or the US Star Wars programs ever deployed weapons into space.
What could go wrong? Nuclear weapons launched from the surface of the Earth involve many safeguards, checks and balances, and they are all close at hand, palpable, with the worst case being the accidental detonation of a bomb in its silo or dropping before completing its trajectory or flight. Silo sites and trajectories or flight paths can be controlled. However, nukes in space are a wild card, as equipment failure could cause the bomb to drop anywhere, including on its makers. In like manner massive lasers of any type, which have never been developed to the requisite degree, were feared for their potential should they malfunction, turning on their makers. However, the many plans and discussions that did in fact take place during the space race decades have endlessly fed the rumor mill.