Russia may answer conventional attack with nuke

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional strike and sees them as a “great equalizer” reducing the likelihood of aggression, a senior Russian official said Wednesday.

While Russia amended its military doctrine years ago to allow for the possibility of using nuclear weapons first in retaliation to a non-nuclear attack, the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin reflected Moscow’s concern about prospective U.S. conventional weapons.

Weapons that have been developed in the United States under the so-called “prompt global strike” program would be capable of striking targets anywhere in the world in as little as an hour with deadly precision. Russia, which has lagged far behind in developing such weapons, has described them as destabilizing.

Without naming the U.S., Rogozin told lawmakers in comments carried by Russian news agencies said that those who “experiment with non-nuclear strategic weapons” should remember that “if we come under attack, we will undoubtedly use nuclear weapons in certain situations to defend our territory and state interests.”

He said that it should discourage any potential aggressor.

“We have never underestimated the role of nuclear weapons … as a ‘great equalizer,’” Rogozin said.

Asked for reaction, an official at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels said, “NATO has stated repeatedly that it does not view Russia as an adversary. Last year at the Chicago Summit, NATO leaders reiterated their desire to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia. NATO is committed to the principles laid out in the Founding Act of the NATO-Russia Council, and works productively with Russia across a range of issues of common concern.”

The Russian doctrine mirrors the American strategy during the Cold War, when the U.S. would not rule out using nuclear weapons first, because it feared it might have to do so in response to overwhelming conventional attack on western Europe by Soviet forces.

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