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Outside View: Russia’s new arms — Part 2

Posted by Kris Roman on June 29, 2008

by Andrei Kislyakov

While U.S. experts express concern over Russia’s nuclear weapons modernization program, their Russian counterparts are voicing alarm that they believe they are falling dangerously behind in the 21st century strategic arms race.

Russian three-star Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the president of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, commenting on Russia’s triad of strategic nuclear weapons, including ground-based missiles, submarines and bombers, said recently: “We are really worried by what is happening. The mobile Topol-M missile systems are vulnerable to conventional strikes; their mobility is no longer a guarantee of concealment or protection. Rather, they have become a deterrence factor only toward the east.”

“The airborne component of the nuclear triad is degenerating, despite promising projects under way in design bureaus. The state defense contracts do not stipulate the creation of modern strategic cruise missiles,” Ivashov said. “The situation in the naval section is also dramatic; there are no clear ways out of this dead end.”

Ivashov was clearly referring to the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, which is to be produced for the Russian armed forces this year, although the missile needs further development.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be happy that even Russian generals, who cannot be suspected of love for the United States, are openly talking about the weakness of Russia’s nuclear capability.

In early June, former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said deadlines for the creation of new weapons for the army and navy should be streamlined.

“We must make financial decisions to accelerate the completion of promising research and development projects already launched. We must restore order with deadlines for their implementation,” the prime minister told a June 10 meeting devoted to Russian Defense Ministry orders due in 2009-2011.

The demand to “restore order” definitely means there is a lack of order in the development of new weapons.

In late March, former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, currently first deputy prime minister, told arms producers in the city of Tula, “Many defense enterprises are not prepared for serial production of modern high-tech weapons that are in high demand on the global market.”

Ivanov was referring to problems with batch production of the S-400 and Pantsir-S1 air defense missile systems, which can repel precision offensive weapons and form the core of the country’s aerospace defense command.

The United States is working to create a global aerospace defense system, whereas Russia has very few such weapons on combat duty, and all of them were created decades ago.

(Andrei Kislyakov is a military commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)


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