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RIA Novosti
October 14, 2009
New Russian nuclear doctrine to reflect new threats - expert

RIA Novosti interview with Pavel Zolotarev, deputy head of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, professor at the Academy of Military Sciences, president of the Fund for Supporting the Military Reform.

Question: Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in an interview to Izvestia that a new concept of Russia’s Military Doctrine would be submitted to the president by the end of the year. He said it would list situations in which preemptive nuclear strikes can be delivered to repel external threats to Russia and contain aggressions. What are the reasons for that decision, and in which cases can nuclear weapons be used?

Pavel Zolotarev: I think this is a rather loose interpretation of what he said. Of course, the new doctrine will preserve a degree of uncertainty as regards the conditions in which nuclear weapons can be used. This is essential, because the bigger the degree of uncertainty as regards the use of nuclear weapons, the more effective the deterrent will be.

[In other words, we are talking] not so much about a large-scale war, as in the past when the threat came from the United States – and a conflict with the U.S. could only be a large-scale war, which limited the sphere of the use of nuclear weapons. But, since Russia and the U.S. are no longer enemies, nuclear weapons are becoming less important as a means of ensuring security in their relations.

Russia and the U.S. now see nuclear weapons as a burden, and are thinking more of ways we can cooperate to stop nuclear proliferation. This is why we are drafting a new treaty with the United States, and not because we want to look at each other through gun sights and calculate each other’s missiles.

But, since there are nuclear weapons in the world, and they will not be liquidated in a long time yet, we should set the rules of their use. The formulas sealed in the doctrine will stipulate broader use of nuclear weapons. I cannot say exactly how they will be worded, but the general attitude will be such that the level of uncertainty as regards the use and conditions of the use of such weapons will persist.

Question: Isn’t this formula too aggressive for other states?

Pavel Zolotarev: I think that this will largely depend on the wording. I think that since the working group drafting the military doctrine includes representatives of the Foreign Ministry and other professionals, they will invent a formula that will not alarm other states.

Question: In other words, Russia will not review the defensive nature of its military doctrine?

Pavel Zolotarev: Of course not, but the range of tasks has exceeded the old limits, because the form of deterrence on which we relied during the Cold War – actually, we did not see any other form – is no longer effective. But since there are nuclear weapons in the world, we should envision broader tasks for nuclear deterrence.

Question: Why cannot we use conventional weapons to attain this goal in local conflicts and wars?

Pavel Zolotarev: Because they cannot guarantee that you will attain your goals and repel the threats that arise. Since Russia has a huge territory and is reforming its armed forces – in other words, it is reducing the number of military personnel – the mobilization readiness of the economy and the people is decreasing. Therefore, Russia has taken this precaution to protect itself from the possibility of unexpected situations when a local conflict develops into a large-scale war for which Russia is not ready. It is for this eventuality that Russia has nuclear weapons.

Question: Will the doctrine list the countries against which such preemptive strikes could be launched?

Pavel Zolotarev: Absolutely not, because Russia has not listed its enemies in its doctrines since 1993. They provided factors, one way or another, that could create a military threat, but the task at any given moment is to assess the situation, the direction from which the threat may come, and ways to respond to it.

But we do not have a concrete enemy, and there will be no direct link to any state.

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