- Russia has announced it wants opponents to understand
it has changed its military policy and will now use nuclear weapons in
"smaller-scale conflicts." It was a clear-cut warning to the
United States and European nations that if they intervene in its war in
Chechnya they may expect nuclear war in return.
- At the same time, Russia announced it is also increasing
its capability - by three-fold - to engage in strategic intercontinental
ballistic-missile nuclear warfare with America.
- This news came out of Moscow in conjunction with celebration
of the 40th anniversary of its nuclear-missile forces.
- In carefully timed interviews in Krasnaya Zvezda and
the weekly Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, the chief of the missile
force, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, said Russia had been compelled to rethink
dramatically its nuclear-deterrent program.
- "Russia, for objective reasons, is forced to lower
the threshold for using nuclear weapons, extend the nuclear deterrent to
smaller-scale conflicts and openly warn potential opponents about this,"
- Those reasons, he said, were the under-funding of Russia's
rocket forces, due to the country's financial crisis, and the emergence
of regional powers armed with missiles and nuclear technology.
- Yakovlev made it clear Moscow will use its nuclear arms
if attacked with chemical or biological weapons or outnumbered by conventional
forces, Reuters news agency reported.
- He told Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye that Russia
will continue to replace its existing intercontinental ballistic missiles
with its new Topol-M ICBMs.
- Topol-M is a highly mobile rocket with a multiple nuclear
warhead that the Russian military has boasted can penetrate any missile-defense
shield the United States can create.
- Yakovlev forecast that Russia will also produce an aircraft-based
cruise version of the Topol-M and place greater emphasis on space technology,
- Although not the superpower the old Soviet Union was
during the Cold War, Russia still has the world's second-largest nuclear
arsenal of hundreds of missiles based on land, in prowling submarines and
aboard long-range aircraft.
- The newspaper Izvestiya reported Russia will double Topol-M
production from the rate of 10 a year, as in 1998 and 1999, to 20 in 2000
and 30 in 2001 - giving it a total of 70 by 2002.
- Izvestiya said Russia will use the new Topol-Ms to replace
its aging, almost-obsolete ICBMs as fast as the new models come off the
- This would deprive Russia of millions of dollars of U.S.
tax funds, conditioned on being used only to help it dismantle and destroy,
but not replace, its old ICBM fleet.
- Those funds were appropriated under the 1992 Nunn-Lugar
Act, steered through Congress by former senators Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Richard
G. Lugar, R-Ind.