Saturday, January 19, 2008

Russian Official Declares First-Strike Nuke Policy: Why?

If you were running Russia, which would be a bigger concern: western aggression; or Ayatollahs with nuclear cruise missiles?

Today, Russia's military chief of staff, General Yuri Baluyevsky, said that Russia will launch preemptive nuclear attacks to defend itself. ("We do not intend 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 forces will be used, including preventively, including with the use of nuclear weapons")

The policy isn't new: Russia has said it would use nukes first since 2000.

What is a bit unusual is that an official specifically mentioned nuclear weapons. Russian leaders usually aren't quite that open.

The Associated Press story, following journalistic custom, quotes experts to express opinions. Apparently, we're supposed to see Baluyevsky's remarks as a re-statement of Russian policy: a policy born out of concern over the threat of western aggression.
  • Retired General Vladimir Dvorkin
    ("He was restating the doctrine in his own words")
  • Alexander Golts
    ("Baluyevsky's statement means that, as before, we cannot count on our conventional forces to counter aggression ... as before, the main factor in containing aggression against Russia is nuclear weapons")
  • Pavel Felgenhauer
    ("We threaten the West that in any kind of serious conflict, we'll go nuclear almost immediately")
This focus on "western aggression" is familiar to me: I was born in the fifties, well into the Cold War. It was hard to miss an ideological conflict that was a major part of world affairs for most of the 20th century.

This is 2008, though, almost a decade into the 21st century, and a little over sixteen years since the Cold War ended. (I'm marking the end of the Cold War as the dissolution of the Soviet Union: December 25, when Boris Yeltsin called the White House, or December 31, 1991, when the Kremlin's hammer and sickle came down for the last time.)

I suppose that Russia may believe that "western aggression" is a real threat. The Associated Press may see the global situation in Cold War terms, too.

However, I think that at least some Russian leaders may recognize that they've got a problem a little more immediate than invasion by capitalistic, imperialistic, warmonger Yankee aggressors.

The Russian government has been helping Iran with their "civilian" nuclear program. People over there must have a pretty good idea of how much, or how little, it would take for the Ayatollahs to start building nuclear bombs.

Although Russia doesn't share a border with Iran, there's nothing but Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, or Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan between Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. If I were a Russian, and responsible for that nation's security, I'd be concerned that the Islamic leaders of Iran might decide that it was time for Russia to convert or die.

Since Iran has a cruise missile (the X-55 LACM) with a range of 3,000 kilometers, quite a bit of southern Russia could be hit by Iran. Once Iran has the 10,000 kilometer Shahab-6 in its inventory, Muscovites would have a more personal interest in Iranian nukes.

Call me biased, but I don't assume that America and the west are always the first thing that people think about.

4 comments:

1389 said...

Here's my take on the reasons behind Russian nuke issue:

US State Department Bungling Toward Armageddon

Also see:

U.S.-Driven Kosovo Policy: UN and NATO Command act as Terror’s Extension

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

1389,

First, I appreciate anyone who does not post comments as "anonymous." Thank you.

About the U.S. State Department and the current administration bungling toward Armageddon, and the current administration setting up a 21st-century Cuban Missile Crisis, you could be right.

I am an American citizen, very interested in America, and regard this country as very important in world affairs. On the other hand, I still consider it very possible that other countries, including Russia, may have foreign policy considerations other than America.

Another point: I'm not convinced that the American military is over-extended. I know that there have been issues with rotation. In fact, I know someone who has spent a great deal more time away from his family than he would prefer.

U.S. troops are very active, and spread more thinly that I'd like: but that isn't the same as being stretched too thin.

Russia's military isn't as globally engaged as America's: and certainly is flexing its muscles in Atlantic and Pacific airspace.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the Russians are coming.

One of my nightmare scenarios is the very real possibility that Russia, North Korea, and Iran might form a sort of Axis against (some of) Europe and America.

The three countries are very different ethnically and religiously: but that didn't stop Germany and Japan from forming a sort of tag-team in WWII.

I don't think this is very likely: but it could happen.

Back to Russia: that country does seem to be strongly supportive of the Iranian "civilian" nuclear program. (There's a post coming on today's development.)

peter said...

What is procedure for getting russian visa

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Peter,

I see that you already know about Visas International.

It's unclear what country you're in. However, assuming that you're in America, you might find the following helpful.

I haven't checked out these sites, but it's a start:

Embassy of the Russian Federation, a quite impressive website. The Embassy of the Russian Federation in America is at 2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20007. Telephone 202 298 5700 01 04, fax 202 298 5735.

Russian Embassy, a visa-processing company. "Terms of use: RussianEmbassy.com is not official website of the Embassy of Russian Federation, however, we make every effort to keep information on our pages up to date, true and correct. For details on Russian visa requirements please contact Russian Consulate you are planning to use for Russian visa application, or apply online with Russia-visa.com"

I also found a Russian Federation Embassy and Consulate online locater (hwww.russianembassy.net)

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.