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Russia Lowers Nuclear Bar

Russia's new national security doctrine makes it easier for the country's leaders to use nuclear weapons and condemns U.S. efforts to become the world's dominant power.

Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the "Concept of National Security" into law in January. In a lengthy section called "Securing the National Security of Russia," the new doctrine would allow the country's leaders to use all existing forces "including nuclear weapons" to oppose any attack -- nuclear or conventional -- if other efforts fail to repel an aggressor.

The previous doctrine had stated that Russia would use nuclear weapons only in cases when its national sovereignty was threatened. Military experts say the shift is due to the tremendous weakness of conventional forces, which might not be able to defend the country in case of an attack.

Elsewhere in the document, the United States is accused of trying to decide key international problems on its own and to bypass international law.

The previous national security doctrine dates back to 1997. But following NATO's expansion to the East and the western alliance's intervention in the former Yugoslavia, Russia's attitude to the West has hardened.

The new doctrine says two trends dominate international relations since the end of the Cold War: an attempt to create a multipolar world and a U.S.-led effort to dominate the world.

The competition has led to efforts by a series of countries to weaken Russia economically, politically and militarily, the doctrine says.

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