Russia to Nuke its Neighbors?
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized the nation's Interior Ministry, which has its own armed force, to carry out preemptive strikes against "terrorists," whether inside or outside of Russian territory. No limit was set on the degree of force to be used, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov had earlier declared that the war on terror allows the use of all forms of weaponry. "If it [the war on terror] is a war, then it is a war, and "any means could be used," declared Ivanov.
The statements of Putin and Ivanov were recently reported by the Voice of Russia World Service, formerly Radio Moscow.
Putin & at right Ivanov: "Any means could be used" against terrorism Internet photo
Preemptive strikes were first advocated by Chief of Russian Armed Forces, Yuri Baluyevsky in November 2004, but Baluyevsky ruled out the use of nuclear weapons.
The Moscow elite has no such hesitancy regarding weapons use, and cites the U.S. war on terror as a precedent. "Just as the United States reserves the right to stop whomever it knows is attacking it, Russia has the right to act accordingly, and do what serves its national interests," the Voice of Russia stated. There may be, however, more to Moscow's preemptive strike declaration than concern over terrorists.
The post-Soviet Republic of Georgia, which shares part of Russia's extensive southern border, is particularly alarmed, and has already protested Ivanov's preemptive strike declaration, calling it an "irresponsible statement."
Moscow asserts that Georgia is harboring terrorists on its territory, which a prominent Russian politician says is "one example of Georgia's many sins against Russia." Georgia has called upon the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to again monitor part of its border with Russia. Russian "peacekeepers" are already stationed in two areas of Georgia which are in rebellion against Georgia's central government and are supported by Russia.
Moscow's growing antipathy toward Georgia goes back to November 2003, when the "Rose Revolution" expelled Moscow-backed Eduard Shevardnadze from Georgia's presidency. The "Rose Revolution" also provided the inspiration and political expertise for the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, another blow to Moscow's dominance in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
By May 2004, the new Georgian government forced another Moscow favorite to flee, the rebel leader of the self-styled "Republic of Adjara," Aslan Abashidze. This move gave Georgia control over its most important port, the Black Sea city of Batumi.
Aslan Abashidze, the leader of the "Republic of Adjara" - Internet photo
With the aid of international pressure, Georgia recently obtained Moscow's pledge to close several Soviet-era bases by 2008. The agreement was hard won, and left Moscow again humiliated at the hands of a nation slightly larger than the U.S. state of West Virginia.
Moscow also fears that Georgia will allow NATO to occupy the bases it is now abandoning.
It is unclear how far Russia will go with its preemptive strike declaration, and who will be targeted. What is certain, however, is that the Moscow elite have given the world warning that they are ready to strike at any time, with any weapon at their command.
There is another certainty about the actions of the Moscow elite. There will be no attack against nuclear North Korea, the burgeoning nuclear power of Iran, or Syria and its chemical weapons - all of which are close allies of Moscow as well as supporters of terror.
In reality, the nations which have the most to fear from Russian nuclear intimidation are those which are Moscow's close neighbors and have attempted to become independent of the will of the Moscow elite.
Posted August 17, 2005
Toby Westerman publishes
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