As NATO Encroaches on Russia's Borders, Moscow Threatens a Nuclear Response
September 5, 2014
The Moscow Times & Reuters
NATO announces plans to hold military exercises and establish five new military bases near Russian border -- including a military base inside eastern Ukraine (which is not a NATO member). In response to this provocation, Moscow has announced a nuclear response exercises involving more than 4,000 soldiers, a level "unprecedented for exercises of this kind. " A Russian general has called for Russia spell out the conditions under which Russia would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against NATO.
NATO Planning Military Bases on Russia's Doorstep
The Moscow Times
MOSCOW (August 27, 2014) -- NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the Western military alliance is planning to set up permanent bases in Eastern Europe, spelling out a development long opposed -- and feared -- by Russia.
"You will in the future see a more visible NATO presence in the East," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Guardian and five other European newspapers on Tuesday. Rasmussen also said the alliance is planning to boost its existing rapid response force, preparing some of its units to be ready for military action within hours. "We have to face the reality that Russia does not consider NATO a partner," he said. "Obviously we have to adapt to that."
NATO's only current base in the region is located in Poland but calls from Warsaw to make its military presence permanent in the country have up to now been cast aside for fear of antagonizing Russia. Eastern Europe used to be the Soviet Union's geopolitical domain, but most of the region's nations have joined NATO since its collapse -- much to Moscow's perpetual irritation.
Rasmussen did not specify the exact location of the additional bases but Russian media responded to his statements by reporting NATO was planning to build its military bases "on Russia's border."
The announcement comes a day after Rasmussen called Russia's humanitarian aid convoy a "red herring," meant to divert attention away from the country's maneuvers in Ukraine. "You can't exclude that so-called humanitarian operations are a cover for a military intervention," he told the Financial Times on Monday.
NATO has pledged to help Ukraine boost its military prowess in light of the perceived threat of Russian expansionism, Rasmussen said Tuesday, speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Cardiff in September to which Russia has not been invited.
Sites Named for New NATO Bases in Eastern Europe
Alexey Eremenko / The Moscow Times
MOSCOW (September 1, 2014) -- The five NATO new bases intended to contain the "Russian threat" will be located in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a German newspaper reported Sunday. The bases will be used for logistics, reconnaissance and mission planning, and will boast permanent multinational staffs of between 300 and 600 employees per base, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
The workforce figures exclude actual troops, whose deployment in Eastern Europe is limited by a 1997 treaty between Russia and NATO known as the Founding Act, the report said. But "small contingents" of NATO troops will be present at the bases at all times, the daily said, citing a classified draft plan of the alliance's revamp.
In addition, NATO will have a 4,000-strong rapid reaction force ready to deploy in the east within two to seven days, the report said. The figure was placed at 10,000 by The Financial Times on Saturday. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled. The plan will be discussed at an upcoming NATO summit in Wales…, the newspaper said.
The document explicitly lists Russia as a threat and says the boosting of NATO's military presence in the east is tasked with protecting the alliance's new members from Russia. NATO publicly voiced plans to boost its eastern defenses last week, but gave no details. The organization expanded in the 1990s and 2000s to include Eastern European countries that were previously members of the Moscow-run Warsaw Pact.
Poland, the Baltic states and Canada -- also a NATO member -- called for a repeal of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act, Der Spiegel magazine said Sunday, citing unnamed sources at NATO and the German government.
NATO accused Russia last week of having dispatched a limited military contingent to eastern Ukraine to help the flagging pro-Russian insurgency there. Official Moscow denied backing the rebels, who pushed back official Kiev's forces last week. NATO suspended cooperation with Russia in May following the outbreak of civil strife in Ukraine.
Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces to
Hold Major Exercise this Month
Mark Trevelyan / Reuters
MOSCOW (September 3 2014) -- The forces responsible for Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal will conduct major exercises this month involving more than 4,000 soldiers, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of rising tension with NATO over the Ukraine crisis.
In an announcement a day before the start of a NATO summit in Wales, RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying the exercises would take place in Altai in south-central Russia and would also include around 400 technical units and extensive use of air power.
The agency quoted Dmitry Andreyev, a major in the strategic rocket forces, as saying troops would practice countering irregular units and high-precision weapons, and "conducting combat missions in conditions of active radio-electronic jamming and intensive enemy actions in areas of troop deployment." He said enemy forces would be represented in the exercises by spetsnaz (special forces) units.
Supersonic MiG-31 fighter-interceptors and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft would take part, Andreyev said, saying the scale of air power involved was unprecedented for exercises of this kind. Both Russia and NATO have stepped up military manoeuvres since the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the former Soviet republic. A Kremlin security adviser said on Tuesday that Russia would update its military doctrine this year in the light of the Ukraine crisis and the sharp deterioration in relations with NATO.
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Russian General Calls for Preemptive
Nuclear Strike Doctrine Against NATO
The Moscow Times
(September 03 2014) -- A Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the US and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one and spell out the conditions under which Russia would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance, Interfax reported Wednesday.
Russia's military doctrine, a strategy document through which the government interprets military threats and crafts possible responses, is being revised in light of threats connected to the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war and the conflict in Ukraine, the deputy chief of the Kremlin's security council told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
But within the Defense Ministry there are voices calling for different priorities.
"First and foremost, the likely enemy of Russia should be clearly identified in this strategic document, something absent from the 2010 military doctrine. In my view, our primary enemy is the US and the North Atlantic bloc," General Yury Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The 2010 doctrine defines NATO expansion as a threat to Russian national security and reaffirms its right to use nuclear weapons in a defensive posture, but stops far short of declaring NATO as Moscow's primary adversary and laying preemptive nuclear strike scenarios on the table, a posture unmistakably reminiscent of the Cold War.
Yakubov said the information war being waged over the crisis in Ukraine -- where the West accuses Russia of arming separatists fighting the government in Kiev -- and NATO's announcement that it would establish a permanent military presence in Eastern Europe have validated earlier fears that the alliance's claims of non-aggression toward Russia were insincere.
The general added that special attention should be paid to integrating the functions of the newly created Air and Space Defense Forces with Russia's land, sea and air based nuclear forces. "In addition, it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces," he said.
Russia to Review Military Strategy to Counter NATO Expansionism
(September 2, 2014) -- Russia will update its military doctrine this year to take account of new threats including the Ukraine crisis, a Kremlin security aide said on Tuesday in forceful comments that highlighted a deepening standoff with NATO.
Mikhail Popov, deputy head of the Kremlin's advisory Security Council, told RIA news agency that changes were being drafted in the light of risks connected with the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war and the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
The doctrine was last updated in 2010, when Russia identified NATO enlargement as a national threat and reaffirmed its right to use nuclear weapons if its existence was endangered. Back then, Popov said, "a number of top officials accused the leadership of our country of old thinking and declared that NATO is not Russia's enemy and will never attack Russia."
"But is that the case?" he added. "They assured us of their good intentions, but the actions of recent years show something completely different."
In comments published two days before NATO holds a summit that will be dominated by the Ukraine crisis, Popov said Russia was the target of an unprecedented propaganda war. "Russia is being deliberately painted as the enemy, and its political course is seen as new threat to NATO," he said.
Cold War foes for more than 40 years, Russia and NATO tried to build closer ties through a partnership program in the thaw that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But relations later soured with the alliance's gradual eastward expansion, taking in three former Soviet republics and a clutch of countries that were once Moscow's allies in the communist Warsaw Pact.
Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, Russia has beefed up its forces and stepped up exercises near the Ukrainian border, while NATO has conducted maneuvers in eastern Europe. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last week described as "hollow" Moscow's denials that it has sent troops and weaponry into Ukraine to rescue separatists from the brink of defeat and help them open a new front.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Ukraine's announcement last week that it would seek NATO membership was aimed at undermining efforts to end the conflict in the east of the former Soviet republic.
In a further development certain to upset Moscow, the Baltic state of Estonia, which borders Russia, said it wanted NATO to set up permanent bases on its territory. RIA quoted Popov as saying: "We consider that the defining factor in relations with NATO remains the unacceptability for Russia of plans to move the military infrastructure of the alliance towards our borders, including via enlargement of the bloc."
He cited US missile defense plans in Europe as a further danger to Russia's security. Washington says the aim is to defend against threats from countries like Iran, but Moscow says a US missile shield could be used to neutralize its own missiles, upsetting the nuclear balance.
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