Russian forces help China in mock conflict

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Mon Apr 30 17:54:24 MDT 2001

April 30, 2001

Russian forces help China in mock conflict

By Bill Gertz

Russian military forces intervened in a mock nuclear conflict between
China and the United States over Taiwan during strategic exercises that
included Russian preparations to use nuclear weapons on U.S. forces in
Asia, The Washington Times has learned.

The strategic exercises took place in late February and included
practice bombing runs with Russian
Tu-22 Backfire bombers that flew close to Japanese airspace, according
to defense officials familiar
with a National Security gency analysis of the Russian war games.

"The Russians were practicing nuclear intervention against U.S. troops
on Taiwan," said an intelligence official familiar with classified
reports on the exercise.  In Moscow yesterday, Russian President
Vladimir Putin met Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan as part of
preparations for the signing of a treaty of friendship and cooperation
between the  two countries in July.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the treaty "will play a great
role in enriching the relations between our countries in all spheres."
The pact also "will further strategic stability and security around the
world," he said.

Disclosure of the Russia-China strategic military cooperation comes as
the Bush administration is hardening its views on China.   President
Bush last week shifted away from past ambiguity on whether the United
States would defend Taiwan in a conflict. The president said the United
States would do "whatever it takes" to defend the island. U.S. officials
said Beijing interpreted that statement as a willingness by the United
States to use both conventional and nuclear forces in a conflict over

A major strategy review now being conducted for Defense Secretary Donald
H. Rumsfeld will recommend a major strategic shift from Europe to Asia,
specifically to deal with the emerging threat of China, according to
Pentagon officials familiar  with an early draft.  According to the NSA
assessment of the February Russian war games, the Russians practiced
fighting in Europe and Asia during one of the largest exercises in the
past decade, the officials said. The intelligence report was based on
communications among Russian forces during the maneuvers Feb. 12 to 16.

"The Asia scenario began with a Chinese military attack on Taiwan that
was followed by the use of U.S. ground troops" on the island, said one
official.  Next, China escalated the conflict by firing tactical nuclear
missiles on the U.S. troops in Taiwan, prompting U.S. nuclear strikes on
Chinese forces.  Russian nuclear forces then threatened to use nuclear
missile strikes on U.S. forces in the region, including strikes on
troops in South Korea and Japan.  Japan's military sent jet interceptors
to confront two Russian Tu-22 bombers and two Su-27 fighter-bombers that
Tokyo said had violated Japanese airspace. Russia denied there were any
violations of Japanese airspace. A U.S. intelligence official familiar
with the NSA analysis said the Tu-22s, which are equipped with
long-range nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, were part of the Russian
intervention on behalf of China during the simulated conflict over
Taiwan. A second intelligence official, however, said he was unaware of
the "Taiwan angle."  The European exercise involved a conflict between
Russian and NATO forces a scenario practiced in past exercises. The
Asian exercise was the first time Russian forces had practiced fighting
the United States in the Pacific region. It also shows the growing
strategic partnership between China and Russia.  Russia and China have
been moving closer  together in what many analysts see as an anti-U.S.
alliance. Moscow feels threatened by NATO's  inclusion two years ago of
Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, and China has begun turning
against what it calls "U.S. hegemonism" since the 1999 U.S. air war
against Yugoslavia. The Balkan  conflict also angered Beijing because of
the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, which China?s
government believes was an intentional U.S. attack.

Intelligence officials said that during the strategic exercises Russia
test-fired three strategic nuclear missiles, from land-based mobile
launchers and from a submarine.  Senior Russian officials, including Mr.
Putin and Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, activated the Russian
nuclear command and control suitcase known as a "cheget," officials

Marshal Sergeyev, the Russian defense minister, announced Feb. 19 that
"all the designated targets were hit by the strategic missiles which
were launched, as a training exercise, during the recent live firings,"
the official Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Two days later, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov met in Moscow
with Zhang Wannian, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The two discussed "military-technical cooperation," according to
official Russian press reports.   The two officials said military sales
from Russia to China would increase 25 percent annually.  Rick Fisher, a
specialist on the Chinese military with the Jamestown Foundation, said
the Russian exercise on behalf of China is "completely realistic" based
on the growth of Russian-Chinese military, technical and diplomatic
cooperation over the past  decade.

"If the report is true, it would appear to track with Russian reports
last year that Russia will sell China new regional strategic weapons
like the Oscar-class nuclear cruise missile submarine, Akula-class
nuclear attack sub and the Tu-22M Backfire bomber," Mr. Fisher said.
"All of this coming together would mean no more peace dividend and the
beginning of the next Cold War."   Bruce Blair, a strategic nuclear
specialist with the Center for Defense Information, said the
Russian-Chinese military exercise, if true, would be a sharp departure
from past Russian nuclear exercises.  "I?m not aware of any change in
Russian-Chinese relations that would indicate any  movement toward
preparation for cooperation in  nuclear operations, or in political
commitment that would justify that intervention," Mr. Blair said in an
interview. "It does illustrate Russia's reliance on nuclear weapons and
the growing nuclear tension between the United States and China," Mr.
Blair said. "And  in a way it is consistent with this notion that we are
going to focus more on China in our nuclear  planning."   Mr. Blair said
he believes the Pentagon strategy  review will result in increasing the
number of options and targeting of U.S. nuclear weapons on
China, which currently is very limited. U.S. nuclear targeting of Russia
probably will decrease by 50 percent from current planning involving
strategic land-based, sea-based and aerial nuclear weapons.

Russia recently revised its nuclear doctrine to lower the threshold for
using nuclear weapons in conflicts.
The change was made to compensate for the poor state of Russian
conventional forces, which have declined sharply since the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991.

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