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Yuri Baluyevsky made a sensational statement yesterday
Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky made a sensational statement yesterday. He said Moscow was ready to deliver preemptive strikes at terrorist bases anywhere in the world, though "this does not mean that we will deliver nuclear strikes." According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the US Department of State said that international terrorists have bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, South Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. But an invasion of a foreign territory can only be launched with the sanction of the UN or under an interstate agreement. The UN has only sanctioned the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which means that Baluyevsky's statement can be interpreted as an attempt to encourage the US and NATO to invite Russia to take part in their peacekeeping operations. It is indicative that the statement was made by a military leader and not a politician; this is the way trial balloons are floated. The U.S. and NATO have long been pressing Russia to take a direct part in the counter-terrorist coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Russian peacekeepers left Kosovo before the expiry of their mandate because they could not find common language with NATO troops. Is the Russian General Staff ready to toe the line under the Stars and Stripes today? Colonel General Leonid Ivashov says that Russia has no aircraft carriers to speak of and its naval cruise missiles are extremely expensive and are hence used only with nuclear warheads. The vanguard of the Russian long-range aviation consists of 15 Tu-160 bombers and a score of Tu-95s, which are mostly designed to deliver nuclear strikes. Consequently, the implementation of Baluyevsky's statement could stumble upon several political and military-technical obstacles. "This reminds me of copying the U.S.," said Ivashov. "Russia's armed forces and economic and political might are not comparable to America's. Weare trying to prove that the Russian armed forces have a long arm but cannot eliminate home grown terrorists within national borders. It is easier to solve global problems than to find and liquidate the headquarters of Basayev and Maskhadov on Russian territory."
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