The following is an excerpt from Komsomolskaya Pravda, December 28, 2011, page 12: Addressing the Public House not long ago, Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov announced that the probability of a war near the Russian borders, including a nuclear war, had greatly increased over the last several years. … Here is an interview with Mikhail Barabanov, Center for Analysis of Strategies and Techniques Assistant Director and Moscow Defense Brief Editor-in-Chief. …
Question: And what might cause these wars that will involve Russia?
Mikhail Barabanov: Major Western countries and first and foremost the United States might intervene in conflicts on the territory of the former Soviet Union. It will serve as casus belli. The countries that comprise the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization belong to the zone of Russia’s strategic interests … vital interests. Should the United States or other NATO countries decide to try and get a foothold there, it will create conditions for direct clashes between their armies and the Russian Armed Forces. Things might escalate into a nuclear exchange, you know.
Question: And yet, why would Makarov mention nuclear weapons? Does it mean that the Russian army cannot rely on conventional forces alone?
Mikhail Barabanov: That the Russian military potential is way below those of the United States and NATO … and even China for that matter, is common knowledge. All NATO countries’ military budgets amounted to nearly $1.1 trillion in 2010 i.e. 25 times the Russian military budget. Numerical strength of their regular armies is approximately 3.6 million men or 3.5 times the numerical strength of the Russian Armed Forces. China’s military budget meanwhile amounted to $90 billion and numerical strength of the PLA to about 2.3 million men.
Question: And yet, Russia keeps aspiring to some sort of nuclear parity with the West.
Mikhail Barabanov: Yes, it is Russia’s nuclear weapons that place it on an equal footing with the United States and NATO. It follows that Russia just might resort to nuclear weapons against the vastly superior enemy. Moreover, the Russian military doctrine does stand for the use of nuclear weapons.
For more information:
My related web site NuclearRisk.org is dedicated to reducing the risk of an accidental nuclear war, and has many resources, including my paper in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “How Risky is Nuclear Optimism?”
My thanks go to the World Security Institute’s Johnson’s Russia List for bringing this article to my attention. If you are interested in hearing what is being said within Russia, it is an invaluable source. While the almost daily list of about 30 items is more than most people can read, I find the Foreign Affairs section at the end of most interest. If you’d like a subscription, contact davidjohnson AT star power DOT net. A donation ($50, $25 for students and others on limited budgets) to WSI is requested, but subscriptions are free of charge.