“Nukes on”-Russia concludes biggest nuclear drill in 20 years!


As it was reported this month, last month Russia conducted its biggest nuclear exercises in 20 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, causing a certain degree of “unrest” in the US. As it is known, Russia since the fall of the USSR, has maintained a so called “nuclear deterrent”, which is meant to be used only if Russian territory is invaded. Nuclear weapons still comprise the cornerstone of Russia’s military might, as its conventional might is expected to build up no sooner than 2020. It’s not the same Russia, which fought in Ossetia in 2008. It has a smaller army, features like command and control, less officers, more professional soldiers, more up to date weapons like Jets that come with a proper IFF system (Friend, Foe, Identification), a feature which was simply non-existent in the Su-25 “Frogfoots” carrying even unguided payload, back in 2008. Hence, the plethora of the casualties caused by Friendly Fire.

Still, though, even with projects such as the state of the art Su-35S (4++ generation), the Su-34 bomber, the T-50 PAK FA (Russia’s first stealth Fighter similar to the F-22), coastal defense, air to ground protection and so on and so forth, everything which is described in one word as “conventional”, still lags behind. The same, though, does not occur for Russia’s nuclear arsenal. It is potent, it is reliable and above all it is Top Secret, meaning that even though we do get info regarding the various conventional units becoming operational, the same does not stand for the Nuclear sector! Everything is well hidden, though some info is leaked from time to time for political purposes such as to give warning or to deter ex USSR countries from joining Western institutions like the EU or NATO.

NATO expansion

At this point, it is noteworthy to have a look at the info which was leaked some days before Yanukovich met Putin. First of all, the “Guam incident”, when Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers breached the airspace of the American military base stationed in Guam, after having flown over hundreds of thousands of miles of a “water desert”, was part of the exercise. Lt. Col. Wesley P. Miller (Pentagon Spokesman) stated that there is “nothing to be concerned about because the Russians, like us, have routine exercises and inspections”. This was characterized as a “downplay” by “The Washington Times” and at that point we agree even though we wouldn’t use that word specifically (reassure would be the correct one, as everyone knows that Russia’s Nuclear Armory cannot be “downplayed”). Another “source” told the Washington Times that “Russia appears to be increasing the readiness of its nuclear forces at a time when the U.S. nuclear complex is in urgent need of upgrading and the military is facing sharp automatic defense cuts that could affect U.S. nuclear forces readiness in the future”, which was truly a bit “exaggerated”, as he failed to mention that Washington does have the appropriate supremacy in conventional means in order to respond to such a scenario, however it’s not the US the Russians are after. 

The districts involved according to General Staff Chief Gerasimov were the Central and the Southern, which “saw” several hundred pieces of equipment, 7,000 troops, and 48 aircrafts. Apparently it was then, when Gerasimov had stated that “some units were at lower combat readiness” and thus they had taken a “C” grade, while more pressure will be applied to them in the future. According to the START treaty, normally if a Country wishes to proceed with any kind of Nuclear exercises it must warn the other side first, something that the Russians did not bother doing, as so far and “bluntly” speaking the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a diplomatic “show off” in order to give a chance to the NRC (NATO RF COUNCIL) to cooperate in the framework set in Lisbon in 2010. 

Most importantly, though, and as Washington Times report “Declassified U.S. intelligence reports have identified three large nuclear storage facilities near Europe, including one that is located miles from the intersection of the Rusisan, Latvian, and Belarusian borders. Two other nuclear storage complexes close to Europe are located at Zhukovka, near Belarus, and at Golovchino, near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv”, meaning in plain terms that Russian nukes are targeting areas such as the Baltic States and Ukraine. Naturally, one may find it “irrational”, even if the Russians did want to invade Ukraine or the Baltic to use tactical nuclear weapons, true enough, but those are meant to be used as deterrents just in case NATO forces wish to intervene as they tried to in Georgia in 2008. In other words, Russia can take both the Baltic States and Ukraine by making use of a couple of tank divisions, infantry regiments, some artillery units and its air force, it does not need nukes, and anyway they are not meant to be used for offensive purposes. But we do know by now that NATO’s expansion to the ex USSR area has infuriated Russia and though it could not react when this happened, it started reacting in 2008 and nobody can guarantee that this will not happen again in Ukraine for example or in Estonia, which is the most “hostile” of the Baltic States and is already accused by the Russians of using the secret services to “tag” Russian citizens!

Alexandros Boufesis reporting for http://www.defensehorizon.com and Focus Dynamics Research Center!

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