Top Russian Military
Advisers Quit Leaving
Yeltsin With Nuke Trigger
By Anna Blundy
MOSCOW - The resignations of four senior members of Russia's armed forces have jeopardized the country's nuclear security and left President Yeltsin in sole charge of the "nuclear suitcase," the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported Tuesday. Lieutenant-General Anatoli Sokolov, commander of the Missile Attack Prevention Division, said he felt his work for the army to be "senseless." Three of his deputies also resigned in protest at being brought under the control of the Strategic Missile Troops. Until now General Sokolov and his colleagues have been regarded as the President's key advisers on the workings of the "nuclear suitcase." Their resignations came after military reforms designed to cut costs and improve efficiency. The newspaper expressed outrage at the loss of the four senior officers and described with derision the results of General Sokolov's request for a further investigation into the merging of the two units. Apparently, the investigation took the form of reprimands for Russia's foremost electronics experts for wearing shoe laces that were too long. However, Aleksandr Goltz, military expert for Itogi magazine, said the resignations were more the result of internal infighting than a matter of military principle and said nuclear security had not been put at risk. "These men are no longer as important as they used to be and it came as quite a shock to them to be stripped of their status," he said. Russia's nuclear capability remains a threat both to itself and to the rest of the world. A report last year by Germany's Peace and Conflict Research Foundation said that serious problems with early-warning systems in Russia meant that nuclear weapons were often kept in a permanent state of alert and that they could be launched within minutes of a real or imagined attack.