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19 Jan, 2008 12:24

Russian Defence Chief flags pre-emptive strike

Pre-emptive nuclear strikes may be used to defend Russia, according to the country’s Chief of Armed Forces General Staff, Yury Baluevsky. He says no attack is planned but a nuclear strategy to ensure national security is needed.

His comments come as tensions remain high between Russia and the U.S. over American plans for a missile defence shield in Europe.

Russia is re-thinking its national security policy and is ready to go nuclear if necessary.

General Yury Baluevsky says there is no intention of attacking another country, but believes regional conflicts and international terrorism pose a great threat.

He says to protect Russia’s interests, military force can and must be used when all else fails.

“We have no plans to attack anyone. But we consider it necessary for all our partners in the world community to clearly understand that to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, military force will be used – pre-emptively, and including the use of nuclear weapons,” Baluevsky said.

Disagreements continue between NATO and Russia over the organisation’s expansion into former Soviet republics and strained relations with the U.S. over the proposed shield.

As a response, last month Russia imposed a moratorium on a key arms reduction pact -  the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

However, analysts are not expecting a negative reaction from the west however, but believe the media could blow this out of proportion.

“I can imagine that some western media would use this as an argument to illustrate new Russian aggressiveness, as they call it. But for serious political leaders, experts and journalists there is nothing new here and I hope that the West wouldn’t exaggerate this statement,” says Aleksandr Pikaev from the Institute for World Economy and International Relations.

Russia has a track record of being the bad kid on the block among the international community. It is often deemed aggressive when it claims the country’s interest are only being protected.

“Apparently pre-emptive means when we know for sure and without any doubt that a strike at our country is being prepared – in this case we don't have another choice but to stop the aggression targeted at our country,” Andrey Demurenko, a military expert says.

According to Russia, the General’s statement is merely a step in revamping the country’s national security policy. So far there has been no official reaction from the West or European neighbours.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak said U.S. military policies may put into question stability and predictability in the global strategic balance.

He said Russia doesn't view as serious the U.S. reasons for deploying elements of its anti-missile shield in Europe.
According to Kislyak, that and the U.S. refusal to ratify the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms leaves the door open for America to develop its nuclear arsenal.