By Ilya Kramnik and Dmitriyeva Olga
Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has outlined a series of possible “appropriate” measures in response to the US plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe. In his tough statements on Wednesday he announced measures to strengthen Russia’s military potential in connection with US missile defense plans.
As one of priority measures to this effect President Medvedev ordered Defense Ministry to deploy early-warning radar in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The Voronezh-DM radar station in the Kaliningrad Region has been completed and is ready to become fully operational any moment. The station “covers” the western sector of the border which has been protected only partially by Belarusian radar stations after Russia’s refusal to receive radar data from Ukraine.
Other priority measures outlined by President Medvedev included a better protection of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces against a possible strike from the “above”. This becomes still more of a priority amid measures taken by the US under the Prompt Global Strike Program which provides for creating high-precision non-nuclear weapons capable of hitting any target within an hour. Even though the program is currently in the initial stage of development, trials of pilot models, including hypersonic weapons, are already under way.
Russia is developing air and missile defense systems capable of repulsing such attacks. The S-300 missiles are designed to penetrate hypersonic targets, the S-400 missiles have a wider range of such options and the S-500 missiles, which will enter production in 2015, will be able to hit as sophisticated targets as combat intercontinental missiles. The new air defense systems will form a kind of “anti-missile shield” which will safeguard the country’s strategic nuclear forces, major economic hubs and conventional forces.
The strategic ballistic missiles currently entering Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces and Navy will be fitted out with new anti-missiles and high-efficiency combat systems. Russia’s Bulava, Sineva, Topol M and Yars ballistic missiles will all be upgraded with cutting-edge high-precision systems to an extent where it will be next to impossible to intercept them. The production of brand new intercontinental ballistic missiles should increase to 50-60 annually by the middle of the decade. President Medvedev’s decision was difficult to take, both politically and economically, Deputy Chairman of the parliamentary Security Committee Mikhail Grishankov says.
“This decision will require plenty of financial injections so that Russian missiles could penetrate American missile defenses. The US should demonstrate the transparency of its intentions regarding Russia. At least, Washington should provide assurances that the European missile defense shield will not be directed against Russia. But since Washington politicians are unwilling to do so, Russia will have to step up the development of advanced weapons and deploy early-warning radars on its southern and western borders.”
Experts singled out Medvedev’s statement concerning measures to develop missile defense penetration systems. The president outlined a whole set of such steps, including in cyberspace and in orbit. Since the American missile defense system is dependent on satellite, intelligence and target detection, a well-planned strike could seriously undermine the country’s combat efficiency. These kinds of defensive measures are fully justified given Russia’s vast experience in creating anti-missile systems.
President Medvedev warned that if the above measures proved insufficient, Russia would deploy contemporary strike systems, such as Iskander mobile theatre ballistic missiles, in the western Kaliningrad Region and on its southern borders. Statements to this effect have been made many times before.
Western countries and the US should react on two points, in the first place, Alexei Arbatov of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, says.
“President Medvedev ordered to develop means of destroying missile defense systems. If it’s cyber war, the West should be concerned. Western countries are concerned about cyber terrorism. If Russia embarks on developing such systems, the West will use all its resources to counter us. As for Iskander missiles, Russia has been working on them for years. If they are to be deployed, it won’t be on the border with China. These missiles might be deployed in Kaliningrad and are already being deployed in the Krasnodar Region. The US is not concerned about these missiles, as they don’t reach out that far. But the deployment of these missiles might cause a negative response from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and even Turkey. It might encourage anti-Russian political groups in these countries which might use it as a pretext to spoil relations with Russia in order to boost their image in NATO.”
President Medvedev’s major warning was about the possibility of Russia quitting the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and disarmament talks. Russia warned about that when the START-3 Treaty was still in the works. And it will do so if the US continues to press for the deployment of missile defense bases in Europe, President Medvedev said.