MOSCOW, 09 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The annual Russian-American international conference “Fort Ross Dialogue” took place on November 2, 2021 in a virtual format. This was the tenth forum in a row. Special attention should be paid to the speech made at this event by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov. The Deputy Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry once again emphasised the existence of an integral link “between the strategic potential of attack and defence from both sides.”
He also assessed the missile defence potential of the United States and the possibility of 100% protection from a Russian nuclear strike: “I don’t think it’s possible, in the best case the US will be able to defend itself from limited missile attacks from some very specific directions.
But as technology advances, new capabilities are built, and the United States adds tools in this area, we see more and more risky situations where this potential will eventually undermine, if not devalue, the critical elements of the Russian nuclear deterrent.”
It should be noted that it was precisely at the initiative of Washington in June 2002 that the Treaty on the Limitation of Missile Defence Systems between the USSR (Russian Federation) and the USA, which had been in force since 1972, ceased to be in force. Since that time, there have been no legal or political instruments of deterrence in the field of anti-missile weapons and technologies.
It is also necessary to take into account the existing plans of the United States to deploy missile defence in space and to ensure the organisation of the country’s defence by destroying enemy missiles on earth even before they are launched, which increase the risk of various scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons.
At the same time, it can be stated that Washington has failed to create an effective missile defence system. American experts are forced to admit that this system does not guarantee the protection of the continental United States even from a nuclear missile strike by North Korea, not to mention Russia and China. At the same time, astronomical sums were allocated for it: over 20 years, the US Missile Defence Agency has spent $163 billion on creating a missile defence system, and in the period from 2020 to 2024 it plans to spend another 45 billion.
Russia cannot but be concerned about the presence of positional areas of American missile defence in Europe. Since 2016, a stationary Aegis Ashore missile defence system with SM-3 missile interceptors has been deployed in Romania near the village of Deveselu. The construction of a similar missile defence positional area in Poland near the settlement of Redzikowo is coming to an end.
In addition, Mk 41 launchers for launching SM-3 anti-missiles also allow the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles with a flight range of about 2,500 kilometres. Thus, these US missile defence facilities have a dual purpose and can complete both anti-missile and strike tasks.
Russia’s repeated attempts for more than 15 years to bring the United States to the negotiating table concerning missile defence systems have not been successful. Therefore, our country was forced to follow the path of creating the most modern weapons systems that have no analogues in the world, which completely neutralise the American missile defence system.
To date, four silo-based 15P771 “Avangard” strategic missile systems are on combat duty in Russia, each carrying one planning hypersonic combat unit 15Y71. This complex has an intercontinental range and a very high strike accuracy, which is comparable to the accuracy of a cruise missile strike. “Avangard” is guaranteed to conquer the American missile defence system and can hit a target deep in the United States within 15 minutes after launch. A total of 12 such missile systems are supposed to be deployed by 2024.
By 2027, the “Poseidon” ocean multi-purpose system, Russia’s asymmetric response to the deployment of the US missile defence system, should be introduced into the combat structure of the Russian Navy. Two submarines carrying 6-8 nuclear unmanned underwater vehicles (nuclear torpedoes) will be part of the Northern Fleet and two other ones will be part of the Pacific Fleet.
The power of the nuclear charge of the “Poseidon” drone, according to open data, can be up to 100 megatons in TNT equivalent. The drone moves underwater at a speed of up to 200 kilometres per hour at a depth of one kilometre and at an intercontinental range of up to 10,000 kilo-meters.
One “Poseidon” nuclear torpedo is capable of completely destroying an aircraft carrier strike group of the US Navy. The impact of such a torpedo on the ocean coast of the United States will cause a radioactive tsunami that will wash away everything in its path, turning the American coastal territory into a zone of radioactive contamination for decades. It is obvious that there is no protection against such weapons, and it is not expected to have such protection in the future.
When Sergey Ryabkov says that “at best, the United States will be able to protect itself from limited missile attacks from some very specific directions”, it is appropriate to talk about another promising Russian strategic weapons system – the ground-based strategic cruise missile of unlimited range “Burevestnik” with a nuclear engine.
The “Burevestnik” missile, due to its unlimited range, is capable of targeting on the continental territory of the United States from any direction and bypassing existing air defence and missile defence areas. And it is impossible to create a circular missile defence of the continental part of the United States even with the possibility of virtually unlimited emission of the dollar mass in the foreseeable future. In the open press, with reference to US intelligence data, it was reported that the “Burevestnik” missile is supposed be put into service in 2025.
The data for a number of the latest and promising Russian strategic weapons systems that have entered service was given above. At the same time, it should be understood that all Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic air-launched cruise missiles in service are equipped with means to defeat the US missile defence system.
The US military also recognises the reciprocal nature of Russia’s actions to the challenge from the United States in the field of deploying missile defence systems at the highest level. Thus, the Deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, General John Hyten, at a meeting with the Washington group of military observers (Defence Writers Group) on October 28, 2021, admitted that Russia had started producing hypersonic systems in response to the construction of a missile defence system by the United States:
“Even though our missile defence system is not aimed at Russia or China now, but is aimed at North Korea, nevertheless, they [the Russians] wanted to acquire this potential, and created and deployed it”. We will not even comment on the phrase that does not stand up to elementary criticism about the orientation of the US missile defence system exclusively against North Korea.
Returning to the speech of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov at the Russian-American international conference “Fort Ross Dialogue”, it should be noted that his theses are directly related to the dialogue on strategic stability between the United States and the Russian Federation, two rounds of which have already been held in Geneva – July 28 and September 30, 2021. The next meeting is supposed to take place in the next few weeks.
At this stage, Russian diplomacy is striving to complete a strategic task – to restore the architecture of the international security and arms control system that existed before the US’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in June 2002. At the initiative of Washington, on August 2, 2019, the Treaty on the Elimination of Short- and Medium-Range Missiles ceased to operate. Then, the United States was the first to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Russia also left the group of parties to this agreement on June 17, 2021.
Only one major arms control treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States remained in force – the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), which was extended until February 5, 2026.
A very important point. In the dialogue with the United States on issues of strategic stability, the Russian military-industrial complex and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, for their part, provide our diplomacy with serious forceful arguments in the form of the latest and promising strategic weapons systems on combat duty that have no analogues in the world. As the saying goes, “with a kind word and a gun, you can achieve much more than just with one kind word”. Let’s wish our diplomats good luck.