RUSSIA has vowed to treat any missile fired towards it as a nuclear attack and promises to respond by firing its own nukes, warn top brass.
The threat was published in an official military newspaper and is directed at the US, which has been developing long-range non-nuclear weapons.
“Any attacking missile will be perceived as carrying a nuclear warhead,” the article in Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) said last week.
“The information about the missile launch will be automatically relayed to the Russian military-political leadership, which will determine the scope of retaliatory action by nuclear forces depending on the evolving situation,” it added.
The article follows the publication in June of Russia’s nuclear deterrent policy.
That suggested the use of atomic weapons in response to what could be a conventional strike targeting the nation’s critical government and military infrastructure.
And in the Krasnaya Zvezda article, senior officers of the Russian military said there would be no way to determine if an incoming ballistic missile was fitted with a nuclear or a conventional warhead.
Therefore, added Maj.-Gen. Andrei Sterlin and Col. Alexander Khryapin, the military would regard it as a suspected nuclear attack.
Russia harbours longtime concerns about the development of weapons that could give Washington the capability to knock out key military assets and government facilities without resorting to atomic weapons, says the Associated Press.
Its new nuclear deterrent policy reaffirmed that the country could use nukes to fend off a nuclear attack or an aggression involving conventional weapons which “threatens the very existence of the state.”
In line with Russian military doctrine, the policy document offered a detailed description of situations that could trigger the use of nuclear weapons.
This included the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies.
The document also says for the first time that Russia could use its nuclear arsenal if it receives “reliable information” about the launch of ballistic missiles.
For example, those targeting its territory or its allies and also in the case of ”enemy impact on critically important government or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the incapacitation of which could result in the failure of retaliatory action of nuclear forces.”
US-Russia relations are at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, accusations of Russian meddling in America’s 2016 presidential election and various cyber attacks.
Just last month the UK Government called for an end to “irresponsible cyber attacks by the Russian Intelligence Services, who have been collecting information on vaccine development and research into the Covid-19 virus”.
This followed a joint advisory by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, the US and Canada on how to protect against these attacks.
Amidst the war of words Russian officials have slammed the US-led missile defence programme and its plans to put weapons in orbit as a top threat.
Last year it was revealed that the Pentagon wanted to test a space-based weapon in 2023, involving satellites being kitted with lasers to disable enemy missiles, reports Defense One.
The US Department of Defense wants to test a directed energy weapon, a so-called neutral particle beam, in space, which could destroy ballistic missiles.
Russia is arguing that the new capability could tempt Washington to strike it with impunity in the hope of fending off a retaliatory strike.
US Space Force Command claims Russia held a space weapon test launch.
However, just last month the Sun revealed that Russia had enraged the west and raised the threat of a space war by test-firing a weapon designed to knock out enemy satellites.
US Space Command (USSC) said it had “evidence that Russia conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon”.
According to the department, Russia’s space conduct is “concerning”.
It said that on July 15, an object was fired at speeds of 400mph into space from a spacecraft, Cosmos 2543, which itself was described as having “birthed” — like a Russian doll — from its mother satellite, Cosmos 2542.
This is the same satellite which was spotted earlier this year stalking the Pentagon’s spy satellite USA 245.
But the Kremlin quashed that claim, saying the July 15 event involved a small space vehicle that “inspected one of the national satellites from a close distance using special equipment”.
The Krasnaya Zvezda article says that by outlining the new nuclear deterrent policy, it was intended to unambiguously explain what Russia sees as aggression.
The military bosses warned: “Russia has designated the ‘red lines’ that we don’t advise anyone to cross.
“If a potential adversary dares to do that, the answer will undoubtedly be devastating.
“The specifics of retaliatory action, such as where, when and how much will be determined by Russia’s military-political leadership depending on the situation.”
Two years ago Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump said they wanted to overhaul their already terrifyingly deadly nuclear arsenals and build smaller “tactical” nukes as tension between the former Cold war rivals grows.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu recently announced his country’s ageing yet deadly nuclear stockpile should be given a high-tech overhaul after a leaked report revealed President Trump wanted a new batch of smaller “low yield” nuclear warheads because his current nukes are too deadly to use.
Shoigu said the proportion of state-of-the-art weapons in Russia’s nuclear arsenal should be at least 90 per cdent by 2021, reported TASS.
“The main focus should be made on further bolstering strategic nuclear power,” he said at a Russian Defence Ministry meeting.