Russia Says Budget Cuts Will Not Impact Strategic Nuclear Force

Potential Russian military funding cuts will not impact plans to modernize the nation's strategic nuclear deterrent, the head of the military General Staff said on Wednesday (see GSN, Feb. 6).

"Even if defense costs are cut, the sequester will spare nuclear weapons that are a guarantee of Russia's sovereignty and security," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.

Two new Borei-class ballistic missile submarines will enter operation this summer he said, despite a holdup by Russian shipbuilders. "Management of the United Shipbuilding Corp. is taking its time with the documents that corroborate and justify the price put on nuclear submarines. ... We are still waiting for the documents," the Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted Makarov as saying (see GSN, Feb. 2).

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin earlier announced that 10 strategic nuclear submarines and 10 multiuse submarines would be constructed for the Russian navy. Makarov, though, reaffirmed that only eight vessels from each class have been planned.

Additionally, Russian military planners are developing contingency plans for the possible appearance of Aegis-equipped U.S. antimissile warships in the Barents or Black seas, Makarov said.

The United States infuriated Moscow last summer when it sent the Aegis-equipped USS Monterey to the Black Sea (see GSN, June 22, 2011). The warship is presently deployed in the Mediterranean in accordance with initial Obama administrative efforts to establish a ballistic missile shield for Europe. Russia strongly objects to any presence of missile interceptors near its borders, which it fears could be aimed against its strategic nuclear missiles (see related GSN story, today).

"Appearance of American ships in the Northern Russian seas will pose a danger, that much goes without saying," Makarov said. "We have contingency plans to counter it. Of course, we'd better do without these measures because they will require additional funding."

He also said Washington had urged Norway to equip its own destroyers with antiballistic missile units. "Fortunately, the Norwegians know better," Makarov said.

An upcoming NATO summit in Chicago that will feature discussions on alliance plans for European missile defense will be key in determining the quality of ties between the Western military bloc and Russia, Makarov said (Victor Litovkin, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Feb. 17).

Russia has more than a decade head start over competitors in the realm of long-range nuclear weapons, Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology senior missile designer Yuri Solmonov said on Thursday.

Solmonov told Russian lawmakers that "strategic nuclear weapons developed by the Russian defense sector are 10-15 years ahead of what the West or the East may do," Interfax reported.

A substantial amount of progress has been achieved in Russia in the last 10 years in updating strategic nuclear weapons delivery platforms, he said.

"We fully accomplished our mission in 2011: the land-based Topol-M strategic rocket was developed and put into service in two modifications with the Yars rocket system -- the first solid-fuel rocket with a splitting warhead. Test flights of the sea-based Bulava rocket are over," Solmonov said (Interfax, Feb. 16).

February 17, 2012

Potential Russian military funding cuts will not impact plans to modernize the nation's strategic nuclear deterrent, the head of the military General Staff said on Wednesday.