Moscow may be dead set against NATO expansion, but the Russians have adopted the Western alliance’s final Cold War nuclear policy of Flexible Response — that is, Moscow is reserving the option to use nuclear weapons to counter a conventional attack. While Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin did not use that exact phrase in an interview published yesterday in the newspaper Pravda, the doctrine he described is a mirror image of the earlier NATO policy. The lynch-pin of Russia’s security doctrine, Rybkin said, is the "absence of clarity" in the military response that Russia might make to an attack.
Some have misconstrued the Russian decision to abandon the Soviet Union’s declamatory "No First Use" policy as an indication that it is being replaced by a "First Strike" policy. But Rybkin stressed that Russia has no intention of carrying out the preemptive strikes that such a policy would demand. Instead, he said, in the event of an attack on Russia "we will use all means available," depending on the scale of the aggression. (Russian agencies, June 25)
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