I must admit I don't quite know what to make of General Baluyevskiy's statement that he made at a conference in Moscow on Saturday. He was widely quoted as saying that
in order to protect its and its allies' sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russia will use its armed forces, including nuclear weapons, and it can do it preemptively.
He added that this would be done in accordance with the established military doctrine, so, strictly speaking there was nothing really new in his statement. However, it is understandable that any mention of words "preemptive", "use" and "nuclear weapons" in one sentence makes people nervous. It certainly should (as should, I would note, the talk about "all options" that are "on the table" that regularly comes from the United States).
This kind of rhetoric, which has been coming from Russia more and more often in the recent years, is quite dangerous. It is a sign of Russia's feeling vulnerable and isolated. And it tells us that the Russia has some very strange ideas about its security and integrity. I hope I'll write more about it a bit later.
UPDATE 01/22/08: Baluyevskiy is not alone - (retired) NATO generals also call for preemptive nuclear strikes. What's up with generals?