Arms build-up intensifies
Russia Strategic Missile Force Commander announced today that Moscow plans to deploy rail-mounted nuclear missiles as a defensive measure against the United States’ Prompt Global Strike missile program.
“A Defense Ministry report has been submitted to the president and the order has been given to develop a preliminary design of a rail-mounted missile system,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakaev told RIA Novosti, adding that work will begin on the project early next year.
The benefits of a rail-mounted program include the ability to camouflage the missiles amidst commercial rail traffic, unlike more conventional silo-based nuclear missiles which can more easily be located and targeted.
The START Treaty, signed by the United States and Russia in 2011, does not prohibit the development of rail-based missiles.
The fact that Russia decommissioned the last of its rail-based missiles eight years ago but is now restarting the program again suggests that Russia is embarking on a nuclear arms build-up.
Russia’s military build-up is a response to Washington’s plans to complete a project to install a missile defense system in Redzikowo, Poland by 2018 while another ballistic missile defense system in southern Romania is expected to be operational by 2015.
Moscow fears that the missile shield is in fact offensive in nature and part of a NATO military encirclement of Russia.
The news follows a separate announcement on Monday that Russia had moved nuclear-capable Iskander missiles closer to EU borders, a development that spurred complaints from the United States as well as Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
During his annual State of the Nation address last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to never allow any power to gain military superiority over Moscow, asserting that the country’s “military doctrine and advanced weapons” would prevent such a scenario.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin also addressed Russia’s response to the U.S. missile shield in volatile comments last week during which he asserted, “They may experiment with conventional weapons on strategic delivery platforms, but they must bear in mind, that if we are attacked, in certain circumstances we will of course respond with nuclear weapons.”
Russia has responded to the offensive threat posed by the missile shield by embarking on a huge arms build-up of its own while staging the country’s biggest military exercises since the cold war.