Russia could amend 'defensive' nuclear doctrine, indicates Duma defence panel chief

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Moscow, June 23 (IANS) Russia could change its nuclear doctrine, which provides for the use of nuclear weapons only in retaliation if the country is attacked with weapons of mass destruction or faces an existential threat from conventional warfare, if the threats and challenges to the country continue to grow, a top Russian parliamentarian said on Sunday.

Any changes to the rules regarding the use of nuclear weapons would depend on the international military and political situation, Andrey Kartapolov, who chairs the parliament's Defence Committee, told RIA Novosti, RT reported.

"The doctrine reflects our reaction to what is happening around our country. If we see that the challenges and threats are increasing, then we could correct something in it in terms of the time for the use of nuclear weapons, in terms of making a decision on this use,” he said.

He underlined, however, that it is "too early" to speak about any specific amendments that could be introduced to "Foundations of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Area of Nuclear Deterrence", signed by President Vladimir Putin in June 2020.

President Putin, during his visit to Vietnam, said that Moscow is thinking about making changes to its nuclear doctrine as the West, which he termed Russia’s "potential adversary", is working on "lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons", including developing ultra-low-yield nuclear devices.

Ideas are being floated within the Western expert community that these weapons could be used and "that there is nothing particularly terrible about it", he said, adding that Russia “must pay attention to this".

President Putin on Friday also announced Russia will upgrade its nuclear arsenal as it is a primary guarantor of national security.

"We plan to further develop the nuclear triad as a guarantee of strategic deterrence and to preserve the balance of power in the world," he said at a meeting of graduates from military institutions following his return from his trip to North Korea and Vietnam.

The Russian leader has warned that Russia would use all means available to defend itself should the state's existence be at stake.

Citing the need to send the West a message, the Kremlin last month ordered the military to carry out drills in deploying non-strategic nuclear weapons.

The developments come amid NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's statement last week that members of the US-led military bloc are debating whether to place more nuclear weapons on standby amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine. NATO must clearly convey to the outside world that it has a strong deterrent potential, he insisted.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov accused the NATO chief of having double standards, saying that Stoltenberg, who previously accused Putin of "nuclear sabre-rattling", is doing the same thing.