News

DATE=2/11/97
|TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-209952
TITLE=RUSSIA NUCLEAR (L)
BYLINE=ELIZABETH ARROTT
DATELINE=MOSCOW
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: A SENIOR RUSSIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL SAYS THE KREMLIN SHOULD CANCEL ITS PLEDGE NOT TO BE THE FIRST TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS. V-O-A'S ELIZABETH ARROTT IN MOSCOW REPORTS ABOUT RUSSIA'S INCREASINGLY BELLIGERENT STANCE IN THE FACE OF NATO EXPANSION.

TEXT: FOR YEARS, DEFENSE ANALYSTS HAVE ARGUED MILITARY COLLAPSE IN RUSSIA POSES A THREAT FAR BEYOND THE COUNTRY'S BORDERS. NOW THEY SAY THOSE WARNINGS APPEAR TO BE TAKING SUBSTANCE.

SECURITY CHIEF IVAN RYBKIN SAYS RUSSIA COULD USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS IF ATTACKED, EVEN IN A CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS WAR.

IN COMMENTS TO THE GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER "ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA", THE SECRETARY OF RUSSIA'S POWERFUL SECURITY COUNCIL SAYS THE POLICY CHANGE WAS PROMPTED BY DETERIORATION IN THE COUNTRY'S ARMED FORCES, AND THE THREAT OF WHAT HE CALLS FOREIGN MILITARY ADVENTURERS TEMPTED BY RUSSIA'S WEAKNESS.

POST-SOVIET RUSSIA'S MILITARY DOCTRINE HINTS AT A FIRST-STRIKE PREROGATIVE, BUT MR. RYBKIN'S COMMENTS ARE FAR MORE DEFINITIVE. ANALYSTS SAY HIS STATEMENT TAKES ON ADDED SIGNIFICANCE, GIVEN THE CURRENT WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN THE KREMLIN AND NATO.

MOSCOW STRONGLY OPPOSES EXPANSION OF THE WESTERN MILITARY ALLIANCE CLOSER TO ITS BORDERS. ITS DEMAND FOR VETO POWER OVER NATO DECISIONS HAS BEEN REJECTED.

INDEPENDENT MILITARY ANALYST PAVEL FELGENHAUER SAYS TALK OF A RUSSIAN FIRST STRIKE IS PARTLY A RESPONSE TO THE PERCEIVED NATO THREAT. BUT THE DEFENSE ANALYST SAYS GIVEN THE DRASTIC DECLINE IN RUSSIA'S CONVENTIONAL FORCES, THE COUNTRY'S LEADERS ARE SIMPLY BEING REALISTIC.

//// 1ST FELGENHAUER ACT ///

ITS A SIGNAL AND IT IS A FACT AT THE SAME TIME. IT IS A FACT THAT RUSSIA WILL RELY ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS INCREASINGLY IN THE COMING DECADES TO GUARD AGAINST ANYTHING WE CONSIDER A THREAT. NATO EXPANSION RIGHT NOW IS THE MAJOR STRATEGIC THREAT TO RUSSIA. THAT MAY IMPLY THAT NUCLEAR DETERRENTS WILL BE USED TO CONTROL NATO MOVEMENTS NEAR RUSSIAN BORDERS.

/// END ACT ///

BUT MR. FELGENHAUER SAYS RUSSIA'S MILITARY COLLAPSE IS NOT LIMITED TO CONVENTIONAL FORCES. LAST WEEK, DEFENSE MINISTER IGOR RODIONOV SAID BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF MONEY, BACK-UP SYSTEMS FOR THE NATION'S NUCLEAR COMMANDS COULD SOON BECOME USELESS.

/// 2ND FELGENHAUER ACT ///

THAT IS A VERY DISTURBING STRATEGIC FACT IF ONLY THE MAIN ON-LINE COMMAND SYSTEM FROM THE RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF WORKS AND THE RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF CANNOT FULLY RELY ON THE BACK-UP SYSTEMS. THAT MEANS IT WILL BE EVEN MORE PRESSED INTO FIRST USE AND NOT WAITING UNTIL SOME NUCLEAR POWER ATTACKS RUSSIA AND KNOCKS OUT THE ON-LINE SYSTEM, IF THE BACK-UPS ARE NOT RELIABLE.

/// END ACT ///

DEFENSE ANALYSTS AND DEFENSE OFFICIALS ALIKE HAVE BEEN PLEADING FOR MORE MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT. SO FAR, THOSE APPEALS HAVE BEEN IGNORED. (SIGNED)

NEB/EA/JWH/RAE

11-Feb-97 12:59 PM EST (1759 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America