Originally published March 11 2015
Russia tells West to fear its nuclear arsenal
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) During the Cold War, the concept of MAD -- mutually assured destruction -- kept the former Soviet Union and the West from starting World War III. In recent months, Russian military officials have taken to reminding the U.S. and its allies that Moscow's nuclear arsenal remains potent and could be used to devastating effect, if need be, to defend the country.
As reported by Reuters, the Russian military's top general, Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, warned the West again in recent days that the country's nuclear arsenal will ensure lasting military superiority over the West as multi-billion-dollar plans to modernize the country's forces by 2020 begin.
Though likely facing a recession in the face of falling global oil prices -- oil being Russia's top export -- as well as ongoing sanctions by the West for Moscow's assistance to anti-government rebels in neighboring Ukraine, Russia will have to face new forms of Western aggression, Gerasimov said, including economic confrontation.
However, he added, despite the country's deepening economic problems, the Russian military was set to receive 50 new nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles in the coming year.
"Support for our strategic nuclear forces to ensure their high military capability combined with... growth of the military potential of the general forces will assure that (the United States and NATO) do not gain military superiority over our country," said Gerasimov, as quoted by Reuters.
Incursions by Russian military aircraft and subs increasing
Tensions between the West and Russia have risen over the past year as the conflict in eastern Ukraine has escalated. The U.S. and its European allies say that Moscow's government, under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, instigated the insurgency and is now fueling it by providing weapons and other support to the rebels -- something the Kremlin denies.
Reuters further reported:
Russia has criticized NATO expansion in eastern Europe and President Vladimir Putin has accused the Ukrainian army, which is fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, of being puppets of NATO with a policy of "containing" Russia.
Russia's global posture has become more aggressive over the past few years, as the country raked in oil profits and fed some of the money into improving military readiness. Incursions into NATO and U.S. airspace by Russian military aircraft and submarines, just as they occurred often during the Cold War, have increased dramatically since President Obama has been in office.
One recent report by the Barents Observer, a Norwegian publication, in October noted that a Russian supersonic Tu-22 bomber was intercepted just outside Norway's air space carrying a long-range cruise missile underneath.
And a Feb. 1 report by Britain's Sunday Express said a Russian bomber carrying a nuclear payload was intercepted over the English Channel in late January. The nuclear-tipped missile, the paper said, was designed to destroy nuclear-powered Trident submarines.
Reuters notes that the incursions into Western air space by Russian military aircraft are forcing civilian flights to be rerouted.
All systems to be upgraded
The news agency further added, regarding Moscow's military modernization program:
Russia promises to push through by 2020 a more than 20-trillion-rouble ($286.62 billion) military modernization plan conceived by Putin, and military expenditures will remain unchanged even in the face of a growing economic crisis that has cut the budgets of other ministries.
According to plans, which were confirmed by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian weapons systems will be revamped to make sure that 70-100 percent of military weapons systems and related equipment are modernized by the close of the decade.
"We plan to fulfill the government armament program and reach by 2020 the intended quantities of modern weapons systems," he said at a meeting in Moscow, Reuters reported.
According to a 2014 study by the Center for Arms-Control and Non-Proliferation, Russia keeps about 8,500 nuclear warheads, many deployed but some in storage, though the precise number is kept secret. That is about 1,000 more than the United States, the organization said.
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