Tactical nuclear weapons will remain in the arsenal of the Russian Armed Forces, a top Defense Ministry official, Colonel-General Vladimir Verkhovtsev said. “The situation that we have on our southern borders is quite complicated. We border on nuclear powers. That is why Russia’s possession of tactical nuclear weapons restrains potential aggressors,” the official said.
Verkhovtsev said that Russia had met the engagements it took on in the beginning of the 1990s in accordance with the statement made by then-president Boris Yeltsin. “Russia particularly committed itself to removing tactical nuclear weapons from the ground forces completely. Those weapons were also cut by 50 percent in the Air Force, by 60 percent in missile defense troops and by 30 percent on nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy,” the general said.
The official said that all tactical nuclear missiles had been removed from Russian battleships and submarines. “The weapons will be returned to the Navy if necessary, one may not doubt about it at all. In spite of the fact that Russia has complied with its obligations, the USA still keeps its tactical nuclear weapons in several European countries,” Vladimir Verkhovtsev said.
It was not the first statement made by Colonel-General Verkhovtsev regarding the need for Russia to protect its territory with the help of nuclear arms. In the beginning of September the official said that Russia was ready to conduct negotiations with the United States about the restriction of using tactical nuclear arms, but only with the participation of other countries. Verkhovtsev said that Russia’s geopolitical situation totally differs from that of the USA. “Russia is not the USA that borders on two countries only, Canada and Mexico. Two oceans separate the USA from other countries. Russian borders are highly complicated. We border on nuclear powers. That is why tactical nuclear missiles act as a restraining factor. We are ready to talk to the USA, but let us have other countries involved in the process as well, Great Britain and France first and foremost,” the general said.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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