Russia Shows Off New Weapons - Tells U.S. To "Come Down To Earth"
1 March, 2018
In his yearly address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation President Putin spoke about the progress his country has made and about future aims of Russian policies. Most of the address was devoted to internal Russian economic and social developments.
The last part of the two hour long speech (video, English simultaneous translation) were a presentation of Russia's new military posture in response to U.S. encroachment and the global U.S. missile defense system. Putin announced the development and fielding of new types of strategic weapons which together will make the U.S. global missile defense systems useless. The thirty minutes section starts at 1h:18m.
In 2007 Putin spoke at the Munich Security Conference and warned of U.S. attempts to create a unipolar world:
[W]hat is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.
It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.
In 2002 the U.S. unilateral ended the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. In 2004 the U.S. and NATO included global missile defense into their strategic nuclear forces’ drills. Since then Russia has continuously warned that it will have to respond to such a development.
Since the ABM treaty had come into force it created stability by guaranteeing Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). If one side would fire its nuclear armed intercontinental missiles onto the other side that side would response by firing its own missiles. Thus both states would be destroyed. MAD guaranteed that neither had any interest in starting such a war in the first place.
With a missile defense shield the balance changes. A first strike becomes possible because the missile shield can defeat the retaliating second strike. Since the U.S. terminated the ABM agreement it has constantly build up its missile defense and thus threatens Russia's survival:
“The global US anti-ballistic missile system includes a naval group. These are five cruisers and 30 destroyers, as far as we know, deployed in areas in the immediate vicinity of the territory of Russia,” Putin said in an address to Russian parliamentarians on Thursday.
The president also warned that the range of missiles will only increase, while further deployment is planned in Japan and South Korea.
Additionally the U.S. has shown no interest in renewing the only two strategic weapon control agreements still in force. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) will end in 2019 and the New START Treaty, which limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, expires by 2021.
Last week the Trump administration published its Nuclear Posture Review which includes several new elements that threaten early escalation into a new nuclear war:
In sum, the United States is building a new generation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, will deploy more usable nuclear weapons in “forward” areas, remains committed to possible “first use” of nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear attacks in defense of 30 countries, retains missiles on active alert ready to launch, is skeptical of the possibility of any progress in arms control and is hostile to the global movement to make nuclear weapons illegal.
Noteworthy for its destabilizing effect is the new doctrine of responding to a non-nuclear attack on U.S. early warning, command and control elements with nuclear force.
President Putin responded to these plans with a strong warning and a renewed offer to talk:
"I believe it as my duty to say this: any use of nuclear weapons of any yield - small, medium or whatever - against Russia or its allies will be regarded as a nuclear attack against our country. Retaliation will be instant with all the ensuing consequences," Putin said to draw loud applause from the audience.
He warned that "nobody should have any doubts on that score." At the same time Putin cautioned against creating new threats to the world, "but on the contrary to come to the negotiating table to give thought to an updated, future system of international security and the civilization’s sustainable development."
The purpose of the new weapons Putin announced is to make the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield useless and to thereby restore the stable state of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Shown during the speech were short videos demonstrating the new weapons.
Russia has already changed its existing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to defeat some ABM features but it can not make them invulnerable.
Now Putin announced a new intercontinental missile SARMAT with unprecedented reach. Launched from Russia it can reach the continental U.S. from any direction, even flying over the south pole, and thus renders any concentrated missile defense like the one in Alaska useless. The missile is huge, with allegedly 200 ton payload, and its multiple warheads are supersonic.
The next system introduced was a cruise missile with a nuclear power plant which makes any anti-missile system practically useless. Cold air that enters the missile at the front is superheated by a special nuclear reactor, exits at the rear and gives the missile an enormous thrust. (In the early 1960s the The U.S. had a development program for such a nuclear driven Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile (SLAM) but it did not succeed.)
The new weapon described in Putin's speech:
"A low-flying low-visibility cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead and possessing a practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path and the capability to impregnate practically all interception lines is invulnerable to all existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons," Putin said.
At the end of 2017 Russia successfully launched the newest nuclear-powered cruise missile at the central proving ground, he went on.
Interestingly there had not been a peep about this system or its test from the U.S. military or any spying services. No other country but Russia has such a system.
Another weapon with a nuclear drive system is the new super fast submarine drone Status 6 or Kanyon. Its development was intentionally leaked in 2015. Its purpose is to destroy aircraft carrier groups and/or whole harbors.
The new torpedo and the new cruise missiles will both carry nuclear warheads.
The fourth system Putin announced is a hypersonic air launched cruise missile named Kinzhal which, he said, has been successfully tested and is already in combat duty in the southern Russian defense sector. The missile is maneuverable and flies at ten times the speed of sound with a range of 2,000 kilometer. It can be armed with conventional or nuclear warheads. U.S. forces in the Middle East should take note of this.
Putin spoke of two another weapon system which are still in development. One is the maneuverable hypersonic glider "Avangard" with flies beyond the stratosphere at twenty times the speed of sound and comes down onto its targets "like a meteor". Another weapon shown in a short spot is a ground based laser system for air defense. The U.S. and several other countries are currently developing similar weapons.
Putin repeated the point that these weapons are designed to repel the U.S. attempt to act as the unilateral and dominant force against Russia. With the fielding of these weapons U.S. missile defense becomes a useless endeavor:
Putin noted that such unfriendly steps against Russia as deploying the missile defense system, bringing NATO’s infrastructure close to Russia’s borders had become ineffective from a military perspective and unreasonably costly from a financial point of view. "All that ultimately (becomes) just pointless for those who initiate and do that," he concluded.
The "western" media will call Putin's speech and the announcement of new weapons a sign of "Russian aggression" and that he "threatens to start an arms race". But that is not what it was. This was the Russian response to 20 years of U.S. aggression and unilateral arms deployment. It is the response to NATO encroachment on Russia's border and to the attempted destruction of the balance of power that MAD ensured. This is the response that Putin had announced eleven years ago in Munich.
It will take some time for "Washington" to understand what Putin means.
Get real, he says. There is no longer a point in trying to achieve a unipolar world. Missile defense has become useless. It is time to talk and to find new agreements on strategic weapons and other issues. In his words:
"I hope that everything that was said today will bring any potential aggressor down to earth."
The official English translation of the speech is now available.