Russian army prepares for nuclear onslaught
Barely a month into the new year, the military have already attracted a lot of attention. Following a mild verbal skirmish over ABM components after the holidays, Russian and foreign generals have decided to talk in the open. In a move that mirrors recent discussion amongst Russia's own top brass, NATO's April summit in Bucharest is widely expected to discuss a report on a potential pre-emptive nuclear strike. According to The Daily Telegraph, the authors of the report are convinced there is a real risk that terrorists could lay their hands on weapons of mass destruction in the near or immediate future. To counter this, the alliance may consider suppressing the enemy with nuclear weapons.
Though the report is likely to cause controversy in NATO countries, the authors appear to be merely echoing an idea originally broached by Russian Chief of General Staff Yury Baluyevsky. Speaking at a meeting of the Academy of Military Sciences on January 19, Gen. Baluyevsky declared that force should be used not only in the course of hostilities, but also to demonstrate the readiness of leaders to uphold their national interests. "We are not going to attack anyone," he reassured his audience, "but we want all our partners to realize that Russia will use armed force to defend its own and its allies' sovereignty and territorial integrity. It may resort to a pre-emptive nuclear strike in cases specified by its doctrine."
It is strange that many esteemed domestic military experts consider this statement simply a repetition of Russia's old military doctrine, which allowed it to use nuclear weapons first. Under the 2000 doctrine, Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons not only in retaliation against a nuclear attack, as was previously the case, but in response to "a large-scale conventional aggression in a situation critical for the national security of the Russian Federation and its allies." This certainly broadens the rules of engagement, but still does not envisage a pre-emptive nuclear strike without hostilities. Gen. Balulevsky's announcement appears to change this, in which case Russia will need a new military doctrine. This is not a new task. In early March last year, the Security Council press service released a statement saying that the Security Council would revise the 2000 military doctrine to account for new realities. The statement added that the new doctrine would be drafted by the Security Council in conjunction with interested government bodies and a number of scientific institutions.
Baluyevsky thus made his recent statement at an organization which is quite suitable for the drafting of the new doctrine. If the new doctrine endorses the General Staff's nuclear ideas, we will have new armed forces, with all the ensuing consequences. First, these forces will become strictly offensive because of the very nature of a pre-emptive strike. This will require totally different mobilization plans and a new approach to recruiting for the Army and Navy. Considering the number and geography of military-political conflicts in which Russia is in some way involved, this will require the deployment of mobilized troops on a territory stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific.
It is not difficult to predict the economic consequences Russia would face in this case. But let's come back to the Armed Forces. Permanent readiness to resolve tasks militarily - by offensive operations in an indefinitely vast number of directions - implies the permanent enhanced combat readiness of all units, without exception. Otherwise the very idea of a pre-emptive strike will not work. For such a policy to be effective, Russia should be ready to deal this strike from a broad diversity of geographical locations on its own territory, neutral air space, and the world's oceans. If Baluyevsky's words are heeded, Russia will have to equip all services of the Armed Forces with permanently combat-ready nuclear weapons. Nobody can guess who will use them first. This only concerns tactical, rather than strategic, nuclear weapons. It is clearly impossible to counter terrorist threats in the South-East direction, or neutralize U.S. ABM deployment in Europe with intercontinental ballistic missiles or their submarine counterparts.
In other words, Russia will need a very broad range of non-strategic nuclear weapons. Such weapons are designed to destroy battlefield-targets, rather than entire cities, and could take the form of medium and shorter-range missiles launched from air, land or sea, as well as artillery ammunition and nuclear demolition charges. Considering that Russia has a huge advantage over the United States in tactical warheads, bilateral relations could become quite complicated if we start deploying our weapons on the ground, in the air and at sea. It would be natural to ask why Russia is choosing the offensive option, and whether there are alternatives to it. But that is a subject for another discussion.
In other news:
Russian Bear bombers join final drills in N. Atlantic
Russia’s naval task force exercises in the Atlantic (video): http://en.rian.ru/video/20080128/97826161.html
Six Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers joined on Tuesday a Russian naval task force in the Atlantic to take part in the final stage of the current naval exercise, an Air Force spokesman said. During the exercises, from January 28 to February 2, Russian pilots will practice reconnaissance, missile and bomb strikes on mock adversary naval force, and will fly simulated air combat and air patrolling missions. "Six Tu-95MS, eight Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers and two A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft have flown today to join the final phase of the current naval exercises [in the Atlantic]," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. A total of 40 aircraft, including Tu-160 Blackjacks, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft will participate in the drills, he said. The aircraft are expected to fly at least 40 training sorties during the exercise. Drobyshevsky reiterated that all flights by Russian aircraft would be performed in strict compliance with international rules on the use of air space over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states. Russia's naval task force, comprising the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, is currently on a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic. The flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 to participate in the current maneuvers. The current operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic in 15 years. All combat ships and aircraft involved carry full combat ammunition loads. Commander of Russia's Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, who is heading the task force, earlier said that the current tour of duty in the Mediterranean, which started on December 5, was aimed at ensuring Russia's naval presence "in key operational areas of the world's oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation.
Over 40 Russian planes to take part in naval drills in Atlantic
Over 40 aircraft of Russia's Air Force will take part in the final stage of a naval exercise in the Atlantic starting on Monday, an aide to the Air Force commander said. "During the exercises, from January 28 to February 2, Russian pilots will practice reconnaissance, missile and bomb strikes on the [theoretical] enemy's naval task force, and will conduct air fights and air patrolling," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. He said two A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft and four Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers have already flown to the Atlantic to join the naval exercises. Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-95MS Bears, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft will also participate in the drills, he said. Drobyshevsky said all flights by Russian aircraft would be performed in strict compliance with international rules for the use of air space over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states. Russia's naval task force, comprising the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, is currently on a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic. The flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 to participate in the current maneuvers. The current operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic in 15 years. All combat ships and aircraft involved carry full combat ammunition loads. Commander of Russia's Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, who is heading the task force, earlier said that the current tour of duty to the Mediterranean, which started on December 5, was aimed at ensuring Russia's naval presence "in key operational areas of the world's oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation.
Russia to rearrange troops due to U.S. missile shield
Russia's Defense Ministry plans to change the configuration of troops in Kaliningrad in response to U.S. missile shield plans in Central Europe, a high-ranking army official said on Wednesday. "The General Staff and the main combat training department of the Russian Armed Forces are deciding how we will configure the troops," said Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who heads the Armed Forces combat training directorate. The general did not indicate whether the troops in the Kaliningrad Region, Russia's Baltic exclave which borders on Poland, will be substantially reinforced. The United States is planning to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic to avert possible strikes from "rogue" states, such as Iran. Russia has fervently opposed Washington's plans, saying the European shield would destroy the strategic military balance and threaten Russia's national interests. Shamanov also said over 230 billion rubles ($9.4 billion) had been allocated for Armed Forces combat training in 2008.
Russia's new envoy to NATO presents Scheffer with tomahawk
Recently-appointed Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, presented Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer with a special souvenir tomahawk on Monday. Rogozin began his work at the organization's HQ in Brussels on Monday. He gave Scheffer an official letter and during a meeting an inlaid war tomahawk, especially made in Russia. Rogozin said he hoped that the NATO secretary general would bury the hatchet as a sign of "putting an end to all conflicts between Russia and NATO." "He is holding the tomahawk and now we have to find a spade to bury this hatchet as deep as possible in the ground," Rogozin said. Russia and the Western military bloc have scaled down military cooperation, but still conduct anti-terrorism patrols in the Mediterranean, exchange intelligence data and information on each other's air movements, and cooperate in the missile defense sphere and in fighting drug trafficking from Afghanistan. The Russian official also said that his meeting with Scheffer lasted an hour instead of the planned 30 minutes. Last Sunday he reiterated that, "Russia and NATO should not exchange mutually unacceptable conditions, but focus on progress in areas that ensure positive results in military and non-military cooperation." He added that NATO had issues that could not be solved without Russia's participation, in particular the operation against Taliban forces in Afghanistan. "Our main goal is to respect each other's interests and make the world more predictable and secure," the Russian diplomat said. Rogozin, 44, who was appointed to the post by President Vladimir Putin on January 9, will attend a session of the Russia-NATO Council on January 30.