RUSSIA has renounced a long-standing Soviet policy pledging no
first use of nuclear weapons in a war, Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev told reporters yesterday.
According to a new military doctrine unveiled by General
Grachev, Russia reserves the possibility to use nuclear weapons
against any aggressor, including non-nuclear states allied with a
The Russian military leader also pointedly exempted from the
list of potential targets the 157 countries that have signed the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the US. The
formula, Russian observers say, is clearly meant to put pressure on
the neighboring former Soviet republic of Ukraine that has so far
refused to give up totally the former Soviet nuclear weapons based
on its territory and sign the NPT.
The Russian military is eager to shed declared defense policies
of the Soviet era, many of which Western governments asserted were
more myth than reality. While renouncing old aims, the Russian Army
is also taking up new, perhaps equally ambitious goals. But in
post-Soviet Russia, the economic means to carry out these ambitions
are shrinking. "We cannot ask for additional financing," Grachev
The pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons was a
long-standing tool of Soviet propaganda, particularly in Western
Europe, where it was used to promote demands for the withdrawal of
US nuclear weapons based there. The United States, along with other
Western nuclear powers, has always reserved the right to use
nuclear weapons to respond to a massive Soviet conventional attack
on Europe, or elsewhere.
Grachev sharply asserted Russia's policy change, arguing it only
put Russia in line with other nuclear powers.
"Is there any other policy in France? Is there any other policy
in the United States?" Grachev asked rhetorically. "At that time,
it was the Soviet Union. Now it is Russia. They are two different
Russian policy now mirrors that of the US in stating that while
it does not envision military use of nuclear weapons, they are "a
means of deterrence against the launching of aggression against the
Russian Federation and its allies."
The doctrine, sections of which were read out by Grachev but
which will not be published in full, states that Russia will not
use nuclear weapons against any state that is a member of the NPT,
except in case of an attack on Russia and its allies by a country
tied by treaty to a nuclear power or jointly carrying out an attack
with a nuclear power.
The Russian defense minister also revealed that another previous
principle of Soviet military doctrine has been abandoned - the
pledge not to go beyond the country's borders in repelling an