Subsequent to Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the war in the Donbass region of East Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin, after long pondering moving into an adversarial role against the West in order to regain Russian global influence, gave a briefing in 2018 where he unveiled new Russian atomic weapons, declaring there was no defense against them.
Hypersonic weapons and a ‘doomsday underwater drone’ were shown on large theater screens, warning the world of Russia’s new atomic power and deterrence. This followed Russian actions in Syria where they demonstrated an ability to conduct sustained air and ground military operations in a distant theater of war, although one very important to the Kremlin – the Middle East.
And guess what, the West noticed.
In a position of weakness, the American defense industrial complex retooled, from a focus on low-intensity conflict in the sandbox forever wars, to restoring America’s nuclear arsenal to confront Putin’s build-up, but more importantly, to prepare for a fight with a near-peer adversary — China.
There is an old saying…Karma is a b*tch.
Now the Kremlin is concerned as Trump withdraws from arms control treaties which favored Moscow (or Moscow just ignored), and U.S. nuclear capability is rebuilt and then some.
This week, news broke the U.S. is building a capability to hit a target anywhere in the world in 12 minutes with a large payload. Boy, that cuts down the response time doesn’t it for a first strike.
The U.S. Air Force says the hypersonic boost-glide vehicle warhead in its forthcoming AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid-Response Weapon hypersonic missile will fly at an average speed of between 5,000 and 6,000 miles per hour. This would be roughly between Mach 6.5 and Mach 8. At that speed, it will take only 10 to 12 minutes to strike targets 1,000 miles away. Air Force Major General Andrew Gebara, Air Force Global Strike Command’s (AFGSC) Director of Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements, disclosed the information in an interview with Air Force Magazine, reported The Drive.
Now the Kremlin seems to be walking back the rhetoric, concerned about memories of the Soviet Union, destroyed by an arms race with Ronald Reagan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) for at least one year without any preconditions. He voiced this proposal during the Russian Security Council meeting Friday, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
“I have a proposal to extend the existing treaty without preconditions for one year, at least, so that we could hold substantial talks on all parameters of the issues, regulated by treaties of this kind, so that we do not leave both our countries and all states of the world without such fundamental agreement as the New START,” Putin underscored, addressing Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“It would be extremely tragic, if the treaty ceases to exist, without being replaced with another fundamental document of this kind,” the president said. “For all these years, the New START worked, worked perfectly, performed its fundamental role of a limiter, curbing the arms race.
“It is clear that we have new weapon systems, which the American side has not, at least not right now. But we do not refuse to discuss this side of the issue, too. In this regard, please, convey our position to the American partners and try to obtain at least some comprehensible response from them.
“Unless both sides agree on its extension, as provided for by the procedures, the treaty will expire. That means, effectively, the work has not begun on extensions of the treaty without conditions, not included in the treaty itself,” the Minister noted, adding that the world risks finding itself without any other instrument that would provide at least some joint approaches to maintenance of the strategic stability.
With oil prices languishing due to the Chinese coronavirus lockdown (released by Russia’s ally…China), and Moscow’s economy barely growing, the ruble depreciating, the Kremlin is in a tight spot. A new massive arms race is something definitely not desired.
However, turning off this new Titanic direction of American defense manufacturing will not be easy.
Decisions do have consequences.