Putin argues that Russia must be prepared for bioattack

Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin recently argued that Russia must be prepared for the use of future weapons systems, including those based on genetics, which will alter how states achieve their aims and protect themselves.

Putin, writing as prime minister shortly before being re-elected as president, said that Russia must mobilize its military and scientific resources in order maintain an effective deterrent strategy, according to Premier.gov.ru.

Putin's essay appeared in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the Russian government's daily newspaper, as part of a series about the country's problems running up to his bid to return to the presidency, according to Foreign Policy.

"Such hi-tech weapons systems will be comparable in effect to nuclear weapons but will be more 'acceptable' in terms of political and military ideology," Putin wrote, Premier.gov.ru reports. "In this sense, the strategic balance of nuclear forces will play a gradually diminishing role in deterring aggression and chaos.

"[Russia's] armed forces, special services and other security-related agencies should be prepared for quick and effective responses to new challenges. This is an indispensable condition for Russia to feel secure and for our partners to heed our country's arguments in various international formats."

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov recently returned to the subject of "genetic" weapons, as well as those of a "beam, geophysical, wave and psychophysical" nature, during a meeting with Putin and several cabinet ministers to discuss implementing the ideas put forth in the essays.

David E. Hoffman, a contributing editor to Foreign Policy, acknowledged that Putin appeared to be making the point that weapons based on genetically engineered pathogens are a potential threat, but argued that the president-elect should be more circumspect.

"Putin did not react, but he should have stopped this loose talk," Hoffman wrote, Foreign Policy reports. "'Genetic' weapons - and more broadly, all biological weapons - are banned by the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Russia has insisted that it is in compliance and is not working on biological weapons of any kind."

Hoffman said that the Soviet Union built a massive biological weapons program despite singing the BTWC.

"Perhaps someone needs to remind the defense minister and the re-elected president," Hoffman said, according to Foreign Policy.