Russia ready to use nuclear weapons if threatened

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Moscow, Jan 19 (UNI) Russia today said it was prepared to use its nuclear weapons to defend itself and allies in the event of a severe external threat.

''We are not going to attack anyone, but we believe all our partners in the international community should understand clearly and have no doubts that, in order to protect it and its allies' sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russia will use its armed forces, including nuclear weapons, and it can do it preemptively,'' Chief of Russian armed forces, General Yury Baluyevsky said at a scientific conference here.

Gen Baluyevsky's remarks came amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO over the alliance's expansion to the Russian border, the US plans to deploy missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Moscow's increasingly assertive military stance.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, and on December 12, 2007 imposed a unilateral moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), a key arms reduction pact.

''In order to protect Russia's interests, military force can and must be used when all other means prove ineffective,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted Gen Baluyevsky as saying.

UNI XC PD MSJ RS1853

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