Russia’s Armed Forces and defense industry are beginning to recover from the 1990s crisis and restore the country’s depleted military potential.

On November 9, 2005 President Vladimir Putin addressed a top-level army and navy conference at the Defense Ministry. «I am very pleased by the progress made by our Armed Forces on the road of sustainable military development,» Putin told his audience. The Russian leader has every reason for this statement.

In early November, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and General of the Army Yury Baluyevsky, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, informed President Putin about successful tests of the RT-2-PM-2 Topol-M inter-continental ballistic missile (NATO reporting name, SS-X-27 Sickle).

A Topol-M ICBM with hypersonic multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) lifted off from the Kapustin Yar firing range on the border between Russia’s Volgograd and Orenburg regions and hit preset targets at the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.
Russia will therefore receive a new ICBM soon. All Topol-M warheads streaking along random flight paths can breach even the most advanced anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems.

Ivanov and Baluyevsky also reported to Putin that the Bulava-30 (SS-NX-30) new-generation submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) would feature the same standard warheads. Starting with 2008, the Russian Navy’s strategic nuclear force will begin to receive the Bulava-30 SLBM, which was developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MIT). Six new SSBNs (Strategic Submarine Ballistic Nuclear) now under construction at the Severodvinsk-based machine-building plant near Arkhangelsk will feature these missiles. The type ship has been christened the Yury Dolgoruky.

Vladimir Putin noted «progress in upgrading the nuclear deterrence potential» with good reason. The Navy’s Bulava-30 and the Strategic Missile Force’s silo-based and mobile Topol-M will eventually form the mainstay of our strategic nuclear forces. They will phase out obsolete ICBMs, namely, the R-36 MUTTKh and R-36 M2 Voyevoda (NATO reporting name, SS-18 Satan), the UR-100 NUTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto), the mobile RT-2PM Topol (SS-25 Sickle), as well as the R-29RM (RSM-54; SS-N-18) and the R-39 (RSM-52; SS-N-20) SLBMs. About 50 Topol-M silo-based ICBMs have already been placed on combat duty in Tatishchevo near Saratov.

«There are plans to purchase six more Topol-M ICBMs next year,» Defense Minister Ivanov told the conference. This time, experts say that the Strategic Missile Force will acquire mobile ICBMs for its Vypolzovo strategic missile division in the Tver region. Moreover, the Air Force will get one Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber.
Fifteen other Tu-160s are currently deployed in the city of Engels, Saratov region. The Air Force strategic air command also includes Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear turboprop strategic bombers with X-55 long-range supersonic cruise missiles.

According to Ivanov, Russia needs this strategic potential in order to prevent war. Our steadily dwindling strategic nuclear forces will remain an important instrument for defending Russia’s national interests. However, the Strategic Missile Force annually phases out one or two strategic missile divisions with at least 40 ICBMs each.

The Kartalinskaya strategic missile division with Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan) ICBMs and the Kostroma strategic missile railroad division with RT-23 UTTKh Molodets (SS-24 Scalpel) ICBMs were the latest to be disbanded in 2005. The Russian-U.S. Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty stipulates 1,750 to 2,200 nuclear warheads by December 2012.

Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces are the main element of its security, helping to defend this country’s national interests. However, the entire Armed Forces are also involved in working towards this goal. “The Russian Armed Forces are an extremely important component of our statehood. They ensure national sovereignty and can promote global stability. Moreover, they can prevent any attempts of military and political pressure and blackmail against Russia,” Putin stressed.

To this end Moscow is embarked on an overhaul of its Strategic Nuclear Forces, aerospace defense system and Navy. It also intends to develop the fifth-generation fighter. “This aircraft would be expected to outfly and outgun all similar fighters,” said Mikhail Pogosyan, general director of the Aviation Holding Company Sukhoi, which is in charge of this project. Pogosyan obviously had the United States in mind, which is the only country to manufacture this type of aircraft. Work is proceeding to develop the S-400 Triumph long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. The Russian Defense Ministry is making efforts to increase the mobility of its Airborne Troops and other service branches. It continues to buy new military equipment, ground-based and aerospace troop control and battle control systems. Reconnaissance systems, ECM (Electronic Counter-Measures) and ECCM (Electronic Counter-Counter Measures) systems, secure telecommunications networks, navigation systems, GPS (Global Positioning System) transmitters and target-acquisition systems are also being purchased as well as comprehensive weapons-use systems.

Our Armed Forces now conduct additional live ammunition tactical and strategic exercises. The Army has held 31 regimental and one divisional exercise. The Navy has conducted eleven exercises and 28 long-range cruises. Joint international maneuvers involving China, India and Uzbekistan have also taken place. The joint CIS air defense system and the Collective Security Treaty Organization held similar exercises, too. All of them took place between the Baltic Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and between the Barents Sea and CIS southern borders.

Russian generals want to employ contract soldiers for permanent-readiness units. Junior commanders must also sign contracts with training units and permanent units, and in doing so become “true professionals, teachers and instructors for their soldiers.” The military hopes that this approach will enhance combat readiness and combat cohesion. Military discipline would also improve as a result.

In this context, Sergei Ivanov suggests another aspect of strengthening Russia’s defense capability. “The Defense Ministry advocates preventive defense and security measures. _ This implies strikes against militants’ units and terrorist groups, as well as other preventive actions for ruling out different threats, before it becomes necessary to neutralize them,” Ivanov said.

“Moreover, the world tends to use military force more actively because of increasingly diverse international and national security risks,” Ivanov added. In his opinion, “the Defense Ministry should become a flexible and well-adapted structure that would transform state tasks into well thought-out managerial decisions aiming to prevent any dangerous trends in the sphere of defense and security.”

According to experts, this statement proves that Russia is noting the possibility of solving emergent problems by force for the first time in several years. The same can be said of military deterrence guarantees and efforts to protect this country from undisguised pressure on the part of some countries. Hence the swelling state defense order, as well as an increase in war games and their level. Indeed, the Russian Government has now boosted defense spending in the field of weapons procurement.
The 2006 state defense order has soared by an impressive 54 billion rubles ($1.87 billion, or €1.6 billion) to reach 237 billion rubles ($8.22 billion, or €7.02 billion). This exceeds the 2005 state defense order, as well as arms-sale proceeds.

According to Ivanov, this principle will facilitate batch purchases of weaponry and military equipment, rather than those of their experimental models. «Our R&D agencies developed new weapons in the last few years. And now we can afford to buy two battalions of T-90 main battle tanks, a warplane squadron, as well as enough artillery systems for entire batteries, etc.,» Ivanov said. Apart from six ICBMs, the Russian Army will receive six spacecraft and 12 launch vehicles, one tank battalion (31 T-90 main battle tanks), 125 armored personnel carriers (APCs) for equipping four battalions and 3,770 multi-purpose vehicles. The Air Force is to get nine planes, one Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber included.

«Seventy percent of all appropriations, namely, 164 billion rubles ($5.69 billion, or €4.85 billion) will be spent on weapons procurement and repairs. Consequently, it will become possible to set aside 50% more on batch purchases. And the Air Force would spend over 100% more money for this purpose,» Ivanov stressed.

However, the Defense Ministry would fail to implement all these plans, if it does not eliminate a conflict of interests in relations with the defense industry and separate sectors. Yury Baluyevsky mentioned this problem at the conference. This contradiction prevented the army from buying the new-generation S-400 Triumph SAM system, a battalion of Iskander-M short-range missiles, an ICAO-class Tupolev Tu-214 executive jet for Russia’s Defense Minister, as well as other combat and specialized hardware.

“I promise that this problem will be solved,” President Putin told the top brass. Notably, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has become Deputy Prime Minister right after the above-mentioned army-and-navy conference. It is still unclear whether Ivanov will manage to eliminate lack of coordination between defense industry agencies. It should be noted that efforts to beef up the Russian military potential do not highlight any aggressive plans on the Kremlin’s part. Nor does Moscow strive to exert open military pressure on neighboring or far-away states. And any mythical “imperial ambitions” are also out of the question.

This can be explained by several reasons. Firstly, our military potential faces a multitude of problems in spite of certain achievements. These problems, which should be discussed separately, will persist for a long time. This makes it impossible to exert serious military pressure on NATO as a whole and its member-countries. But Russia has no intention of conducting such policies. The Kremlin is staking on long-term and sincere cooperation with NATO, with no strings attached. It also aspired for bilateral partnership with NATO countries in many spheres. The Russia-NATO agenda includes joint efforts to fight international terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies, coping with illicit drug trafficking, the establishment of a European Theater ABM system, etc.

In Putin’s opinion, this minimal, albeit sufficient, military potential enables the Kremlin to “ensure global stability and to shield Russia from any attempted military-political pressure and blackmail.” “Unfortunately, we can still perceive such policies in the world,” Putin noted.

Vladimir Putin did not name the country and its leadership that conduct such a “policy”.
However, all sober-minded experts know that he implies the U.S. Administration, whose foreign policy hinges on the unipolar world paradigm. The United States has no intention of heeding other countries’ national interests and even their sovereignty. The United States often acts like a «tough cowboy», failing to notice that it seriously tarnishes its democratic reputation. Moreover, its adventurist policies kill thousands of U.S. citizens.

This is what happened in March 2003 when the United States attacked Iraq under far-fetched pretexts of fighting terrorism and liquidating Baghdad’s destruction of mass weapons. France, Germany and Russia opposed this U.S. aggression in the UN. They were joined by other countries, including China, whose leaders understood that, instead of ousting Saddam Hussein and wiping out Al Qaeda, Washington merely wanted to establish control over Iraqi oil.

International terrorists and al-Qaeda did not operate in Iraq before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The United States is still unable to control Iraqi oil because regular terrorist acts hinder large-scale oil production. The price of Mideastern oil has skyrocketed by over 100% since then. And over 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died in action to date. Russia is strengthening its military potential in order to prevent similar Eurasian developments. Multi-vector political, economic, technological, trade, military-technical and other ties with leading countries, namely, France, Germany, India and China, also play this role. Moscow and these countries are moving to establish a multi-polar world that would cope with aggression and power politics in international relations.

Moscow believes that Russia, as well as its neighbors, allies and partners, need peace, security, stability and opportunities for sustainable development. In this connection, Russia’s resurgent Armed Forces, which are supposed to accomplish such objectives, differ little from other civilized countries’ armies and navies.