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18 Dec, 2009 11:55

ROAR: “Russia could get right for first nuclear strike”

ROAR: “Russia could get right for first nuclear strike”

The country’s military doctrine will remain defensive even if it contains pre-emptive measures, analysts say.

Members of the Russian Security Council have approved the draft new military doctrine of the country, the media reported. After some technical work on the document, it will be adopted soon.

The doctrine may allow Russia to deliver a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Yury Baluevsky, deputy secretary of the Security Council, says that a nuclear strike is not ruled out when “a real threat to the existence of the state emerges,” Russian News Service radio said. The basis of Russia’s military policy remains the same – “to prevent any military threat,” he said.

The previous military doctrine, adopted in 2000, considered the nukes “as a factor of containing aggression, securing the defense of Russia and its allies and supporting international stability.”

Nikolay Patrushev, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council said earlier that the new doctrine will allow the military to use nukes in small-scale conflicts and launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

Gazeta.ru, which obtained a copy of the draft doctrine, stressed that the document gives Russia “the right to a nuclear war. Moscow will be able to strike a pre-emptive nuclear strike, the website explained, adding that the Russian president may sign the document by the end of the year.

The work on the project “has lasted for seven years” and new amendments are “not expected until December 25,” a source told the website.

Analysts believe that the new doctrine will reflect the present state of the Russian army and its capabilities. “Our doctrine is defensive, but this does not mean it is not active,” Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee told Gazeta.ru.

“Russia in a political sense is doing everything so as not to use nuclear weapons, but it remains the main containing factor,” the website quoted Ozerov as saying.

Military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer noted that it had been decided to renew the doctrine long ago. “However, nobody uses the doctrine for utilitarian purposes,” he told Gazeta.ru. The analyst questioned the importance of the document, saying that “the radical reform of the armed forces is in full swing, but the doctrine has just emerged.”

The analyst explained the principle of the nuclear containment by “the weakness and low fighting efficiency of conventional armed forces,” the website said. “The weaker the army, the greater the role of nukes,” Felgenhauer said.

At the same time, he stressed that even if this principle is stated in the document, “really, of course, these weapons will not be used.”

Aleksandr Pikaev from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations also believes that changing the conditions under which nuclear weapons can be used “reflects the unsatisfactory state of the Russian armed forces.”

The idea of pre-emptive nuclear strikes is not new. It was first floated “in the short version of the military doctrine published in 1993,” Pikaev told Rosbalt news agency.

Nuclear weapons are supposed to “discourage any potential aggressor from using a certain weakness of Russian conventional armed forces,” he said. The doctrine is similar “to the same US documents,” Pikaev noted. They assume that the nukes can be used “in any conflicts, including local ones, however, it is not stated directly,” Pikaev said.

At the same time, he stressed that “excessive specification is unnecessary in such things.” Also, the preparations for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference due next May are underway, and many talk about “reducing the role of nuclear weapons,” the analyst said. “And the old version of the doctrine had all that was needed,” he noted.

Argumenty i Fakty weekly stresses that the analogous US document does not contain the principle of a pre-emptive nuclear strike “as a response to a threat.” However, Russia and the US have different geopolitical situations, it added.

At the same time, the basic thesis of the Russian doctrine is “the existence of the multi-polar world,” the weekly said. That means that the possibility of a large-scale military conflict with the use of conventional weapons and nukes against Russia “has been reduced.”

Despite more centers of power, “it is still necessary to defend itself” from a possible aggression, the weekly said. “Russia now declares its right not only to use nukes in case of aggression, but also in response to the threat of the use of nukes or other types of weapons of mass destruction… and against the aggression with the use of conventional weapons in critical situations for Russia.”

However, the county’s military doctrine still remains “a defensive and containment one,” the weekly said. “Even professional ill-wishers will not find aggressive intentions in the document.”

The Russian military leadership have written a doctrine “that is right in theory but is unlikely to be fulfilled in practice,” president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Leonid Ivashov told Gazeta daily.

The doctrine does not conform to “the new image” of the Russian armed forces that is being formed now, Ivashov explained at the round table organized by the Communist Party’s faction in the State Duma.

“The US is realizing a conception of the strategy of a quick global strike,” Ivashov said. Meanwhile, Washington is reducing its nuclear forces and “suggests that we do the same,” he added. But the US now has a modern defense technology and “left us behind in conventional high-precision weapons,” he stressed.

Vedomosti daily said, citing a source in the Defense Ministry, that the Russian army will be comprised of 30% new weapons and equipment by 2015, and 70% by 2020.

Sergey Borisov, RT