MOSCOW, 29 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
On December 21, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the annual expanded meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation at the National Defence Management Center. A number of quotes from the President’s speech at this event are relevant to the current situation in the field of national security and deserve special attention.
Vladimir Putin noted: “The military-political situation in the world remains difficult, the conflict potential has grown in a number of regions, new hotbeds of tension have emerged. Thus, the buildup of the US and NATO military grouping directly at the Russian borders, as well as the conduct of large-scale exercises, including unplanned ones, is of serious concern.”
He also specified some aspects of threats to our country: “We are extremely concerned that elements of the US global missile defence are being deployed near Russia. The Mk 41 launchers located in Romania and planned to be deployed in Poland are adapted to the use of Tomahawk shock systems. If this infrastructure moves on, if the US and NATO missile systems appear in Ukraine, then their flight time to Moscow will be reduced to seven to ten minutes, and when placing hypersonic weapons – up to five. This is a serious challenge for us – a challenge to our security.”
The Russian President also spoke about the political and diplomatic way he proposed to resolve the current crisis: “In this regard, as you know, I proposed to the US President to start negotiations on the development of specific agreements. In response to his proposal, we sent our projects that would exclude the further expansion of NATO in the eastern direction and the deployment of offensive weapons systems in neighbouring countries. As you know, the drafts of the relevant treaties have been handed over to the American colleagues and the NATO leadership.”
Let me remind you that on December 17, 2021, the drafts of these documents, the Agreement on Security Measures of the Russian Federation and the member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Security Guarantees, appeared in open access on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
What will happen if the political and diplomatic path does not give the desired result? Vladimir Putin also told about this: “If the clearly aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues, we will take adequate military-technical response measures, react harshly to unfriendly steps. And, I want to emphasise, we have every right to do this, we have every right to take actions designed to ensure the security and sovereignty of Russia.”
Does Russia have the necessary potential for a military-technical response? At the expanded board of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, data on the equipment of the Armed Forces of our country with modern equipment was announced. The share of modern weapons in the general-purpose forces was 71.2%, and in the strategic nuclear forces – 89%.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in the Armed Forces of the USSR, the modernity of weapons was at the level of 54% for general-purpose forces, and 65-70% for strategic nuclear forces. In 2000, the level of modern weapons in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for general-purpose forces fell to 12%, and for nuclear deterrence forces it decreased to 35%.
I will give a number of figures concerning the state of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. According to Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, “today the entire command staff of the Ground Forces has combat experience, 92% – flight personnel, 58% – air defence specialists, 62% – Navy.”
The staffing of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation reached 91%, and the staffing of officer positions exceeded 96%. The number of contract servicemen has doubled the number of conscripts. At the same time, 67% of contract employees have higher or secondary vocational education.
From 2000 to 2021, in 20 years, Russia made a giant leap in military construction. Thus, it is the current state of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation that makes it possible to raise the issue of security guarantees to our country from the United States and NATO.
Today, the formats of negotiations on Russian proposals are already known. The first negotiation platform is bilateral – Russia-USA, the start of negotiations is scheduled for January 2022. The second platform is Russia-NATO, communication will also begin in January 2022, but later than in the first format. In addition, there are intentions to discuss the Russian initiative on the OSCE platform.
Obviously, everything will be decided at the negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States, the other formats are advisory. Strategic nuclear parity is maintained between our countries. The United States is the undisputed leader of the collective West, possessing key political, economic and military power. In fact, at this stage of historical development, the United States is the only country in the world that fits the definition of a superpower.
An agreement will be concluded between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, which means that an Agreement will be concluded on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
At the moment, Moscow, having put forward strict requirements for security guarantees, has to some extent mastered the initiative. However, an attempt to intercept it is not excluded. And it will not even be so much an attempt by the Americans as by the British: to arrange a provocation in Ukraine to draw Russia into an armed conflict on Ukrainian territory. Thus, the question of changing the agenda may be raised: the topic of negotiations on security guarantees for Russia to “deterrence of Russian aggression”. And this scenario should be taken into account.
As for the prospects for our country to receive security guarantees from the United States and NATO, it is difficult to expect that the result Russia needs will be achieved from the first approach. The collective West has been waging a geopolitical offensive for 30 years, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is unlikely to immediately abandon moving forward and consolidating what has been achieved.
However, there is a sore point – this is the personal security of the American establishment in the continental United States. Therefore, when a significant part of experts and even some Russian officials talk about the possibility of a repeat of a situation similar to the 1962 Caribbean crisis, we can agree with them. Only demonstrative military-technical actions near the continental part of the United States or real preparations for them can push the United States to conclude a deal with Russia.
By the way, the 1962 Caribbean crisis was resolved successfully, although the countries were on the verge of nuclear war. Let’s hope that the nations, both American and Russian, still have a historical memory and will not bring the situation to such a level of tension as in 1962. And here the United States should show prudence, because Russia has nowhere to retreat, everything has gone too far. Only by taking a position of indivisible and equal security for all countries can the current crisis be resolved.