For some reason or another, Russia is feeling very insecure these days, and the #3 silovik in the government, Nikolai Patrushev, is pushing a new military doctrine governing the deployment of nuclear weapons … he thinks it should be looser for pre-emptive strikes, even against conventionally armed nations. Many of Russia’s neighbors have had to get used to being regularly threatened with nuclear annihilation a long time ago, but now this doctrine theoretically brings it a step closer. Of course we know that Russia is extremely unlikely to ever do something like that, but that’s what makes this just so unnecessary.
In an interview published today in Izvestia, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Kremlin’s security council, said the new doctrine offers “different options to allow the use of nuclear weapons, depending on a certain situation and intentions of a would-be enemy. In critical national security situations, one should also not exclude a preventive nuclear strike against the aggressor.”
What’s more, Patrushev said, Russia is revising the rules for the employment of nukes to repel conventionally armed attackers, “not only in large-scale, but also in a regional and even a local war.”
Gulp. If I were in Georgia — or in any other country Russia considers part of its sphere of influence — that formulation would make me pretty anxious.