Russia Issues Pre-Emptive Nuclear Threat
Russia's military chief of staff says Moscow would use nuclear weapons in pre-emptive strike if it felt threatened.

General Yuri Baluyevsky said there were no plans "to attack anyone" but reasserted Russia's right to defend itself.

"To defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, military forces will be used, including preventively, including with the use of nuclear weapons," Gen Baluyevsky said.

The remarks do not represent a change in policy for Moscow.

But they do come at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West.

Russia is embroiled in persistent disputes over US plans for missile defence facilities in former Soviet satellite states that have joined NATO.

A row has also broken out between the UK and Russia after the director of the British Council in St Petersburg was briefly arrested.

Britain closed the council's offices after accusing the Russians of harassment.