Sunday, December 21, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin Reopens Possibility for Preemptive Attack on the West, Zhilin Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, December 21 – Aleksandr Zhilin, head of the Moscow Center for the Study of Applied Problems and a leading Russian military commentator, says that Vladimir Putin has now changed the country’s military doctrine in such a way that it will now allow for consideration of a pre-emptive military attack on the West in response to a range of Western threats.


            In a comment for the Regnum news agency, Zhilin says that as Putin made clear at his meetings with the defense ministry collegium, “Russia does not intend to attack anyone.” But “nevertheless,” he continues, Moscow’s “military strategy is changing” in ways that lay the groundwork for an even more aggressive stance than now (


            At earlier meetings with the top officials of the Russian defense ministry, Putin “began with the statement that we have no strategic enemies and therefore we do not see military threats to the country.” In the one just concluded, “he did not say this,” And Zhilin says that in his view, Putin “perfectly precisely” declared that Russia does have “a strategic enemy” – the US.


            American efforts at building an ABM system and the increased activity of NATO “in Europe and above all in Eastern Europe” are cause for concern, Putin told the session, and consequently, in Zhilin’s telling, Russia must maintain or improve its ability to “destroy or at least inflict an unbearable strike on its opponent on another continent.”


            The Russian president told the military commanders that “it is necessary to force ‘the development of all components of the strategic nuclear forces …[because] these forces are the most important factor of maintaining a global balance and in fact preclude the possibility of massive aggression against Russia.”


            But even more important as an indication of Moscow’s intentions, Zhilin argues, the meeting shows that “Russia retains for itself the right in the case of a real threat of a nuclear attack by an opponent to launch a preventive one. Under Yeltsin, that point was cut out of our military doctrine” at American insistence, but now it is back.


            In Putin’s own words, “Russia as always will consistently defend its interests and sovereignty and will seek to strengthen international stability and support equal security for all states and peoples.” And that means, Zhilin says, that “in the case of danger for Russia in financial, technological or raw material markets, our response can be military.”


            “In other words,” the Moscow military commentator says, US President Barack Obama as a result of his foolish anti-Russian policy is significantly reducing the military security of his own country. The Americans are becoming hostages of the shortsightedness of the White House.”


            Zhilin’s words may exaggerate how much Putin has changed Russia’s military doctrine, especially with regard to the possibility of responding militarily to economic challenges. But they are important as an indicator of how at least some in the Russian defense establishment see things and thus an indication of how much more dangerous Putin has made the world.


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