In a possible warning to the US and Western allies, Russia announced Friday it will consider any missile attack as being nuclear in nature, and so will result in a nuclear response.
“Any missile attack will be considered nuclear, because there is no possibility of identifying what type of the warhead it carries, and will trigger a nuclear response,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in its official newspaper Krasny Zvezda (Red Star).
The ministry added: “Once radar has detected the launch of ballistic missiles attacking Russian territory, the military leadership will be automatically informed and will determine the scale of nuclear weapons’ use.”
Publication of the procedures follows President Vladimir Putin this June signing a new policy on nuclear deterrence allowing nuclear weapons to be used to repel a conventional arms attack if it threatens the homeland.
By specifiying that a non-nuclear attack can trigger Russian nuclear retaliation, the procedure appears to warn the US and its allies against any missile attack on Russia, nuclear or not.
The newspaper also said nuclear weapons will also be used to repel attacks using weapons of mass destruction, aggression with conventional weapons, and attempts to destroy critical Russian facilities.
Russia has repeatedly argued that its nuclear capability is defensive in nature, and that it has a policy of not being the first to launch a nuclear strike.