Russia`s rocket woes

4623.jpgRussian policy makers have reacted with fury to a recent article in Foreign Affairs discussing the growing problems Russia has in maintaining its ICBM nuclear delivery systems. 


The article, entitled ‘The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy,’ by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, ran in the March issue of Foreign Affairs. And it ‘exploded like a bomb in the Russia`s higher political circles,’ analyst Pavel Baev wrote in Monday`s edition of Eurasia Daily Monitor, which is published by the Jamestown Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. The article provoked reactions in the Moscow publications ‘Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie on March 31 and in Vedomosti on March 22,’ Baev wrote. 

‘The argument in the article is hardly new: The quantitative decline and qualitative degradation of Russian strategic forces create a situation where they could be completely obliterated by a first, `disarming` U.S. strike,’ Baev wrote. ‘Whether this crucial threshold in the strategy of nuclear deterrence has already been crossed or will be in the near future is essentially an academic question, but the fact of steadily increasing U.S. superiority is beyond doubt.’ 


Baev noted recent Russian reports that their new land-based Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile would be equipped with the same multiple warheads as the sea-launched Bulava ballistic missile. However, he continued, ‘That might indeed help in preserving the high total count of the warheads but would not resolve the accumulating problems with the delivery systems,’ he wrote. 


Baev noted that the current production scale of six-to-eight Topol-M missiles a year is about four times lower than what is necessary for replacing the old Soviet ICBMs still in service. Also, the new Bulava still needs many more tests before it could be ready for deployment in the new generation of nuclear submarines, he wrote. 


‘That essentially means that for the next five years the naval leg of Russian nuclear triad will continue to rely on the SLBMs that are long past their expiration date,’ Baev wrote.

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