From Valdimir Isachenkov, the AP: Russia is facing a heightened risk of being drawn into conflicts at its borders that have the potential of turning nuclear, the nation’s top military officer said Thursday.
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, cautioned over NATO’s expansion eastward and warned that the risks of Russia being pulled into local conflicts have "risen sharply.
Makarov added, according to Russian news agencies, that "under certain conditions local and regional conflicts may develop into a full-scale war involving nuclear weapons."
A steady decline in Russia’s conventional forces has prompted the Kremlin to rely increasingly on its nuclear deterrent.
The nation’s military doctrine says it may use nuclear weapons to counter a nuclear attack on Russia or an ally, or a large-scale conventional attack that threatens Russia’s existence.
Russia sees NATO’s expansion to include former Soviet republics and ex-members of the Soviet bloc in eastern and central Europe as a key threat to Russia’s security.