BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Peter Biles reports for BBC News
"The acting President says he wants to see Russia a strong armed state again"
 real 28k

The BBC's William Horsley in Moscow
"It says the level of military threats to Russia is growing"
 real 28k

Stephen Dalziel, the BBC's Russian Affairs analyst
"If all else failed they would use nuclear weapons"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 22:21 GMT
Russia lowers nuclear threshold
The new policy places greater emphasis on nuclear weaponry
Russia has revised its defence doctrine to make it easier to press the nuclear button in an international crisis.

The new national security concept envisages the use of nuclear weapons if Russia has to repel armed aggression when all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted.

Under the previous concept, published in 1997 by former president Boris Yeltsin, Russia said it would resort to nuclear weapons only if its very existence was threatened.

Mushroom cloud
Russia's nuclear arsenal is seen as primarily a deterrent force
The new security strategy has been approved by acting President Vladimir Putin, who will stand in the presidential elections in March.

Officials say it is a sweeping rewrite of the 1997 document, focusing more on fighting terrorism and organised crime.

The 21-page doctrine - in effect in place as government policy - was published on Friday in the weekly military newspaper Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye.

The document - "Concept of National Security" - said a number of states were trying to weaken and marginalise Russia. "The level and scale of threats in the military sphere is growing," it added.

Click here to see a map of Russia's nuclear bases

Other states threaten Russian national security by attempting to oppose the strengthening of Russia as a centre of influence in a multi-polar world

Defence doctrine
The document said Russia was prepared to use ''all forces and equipment at its disposal, including nuclear weapons, if it has to repel armed aggression, if all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted or proved ineffective''.

Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal is made up of about 770 intercontinenal ballistic missiles (ICBMs), about 21 nuclear armed submarines (SSBNs) and nuclear bombers.

Social issues

The new nuclear doctrine was part of a wide-ranging review of the problems facing Russia.

The country's leadership has taken a detailed, frank look at economic disintegration, social inequalities and the devaluing of spiritual values.

The document says Russia is threatened by a creeping criminalisation of society that has to be tackled politically as well as legally.

It acknowledges that it is in Russia's interest to maintain its economic links to the outside world and there is no suggestion that it intends to abandon free market principles.

The document identifies sharp differences between rich and poor, unemployment and poverty as obstacles to Russia's status as an important world power.

Balance of power

The BBC's correspondent in Moscow, William Horsley, said the concept underlying the policy document was that the United States must not be seen as the only superpower.

Moscow's favoured option was for a "multi-polar" world in which Russia's voice was backed up by its military arsenal. The document said the current trend was for a "uni-polar" world dominated by the US.

Defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus said Russia's new emphasis on nuclear weapons would encourage arms control advocates to press the Clinton administration to step up its efforts to conclude nuclear disarmament agreements with Moscow.

This, at a time when Washington appeared more interested in developing strategic defences rather than relying on treaties for security.

Click here to return

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Europe Contents

Country profiles
See also:

14 Jan 00 | Media reports
Extracts from the document
14 Jan 00 | Europe
Analysis: The wider issues
20 Aug 99 | Americas
Russia critical of US missile plan
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories