At press time, it looks as if Boris Yeltsin will win the election in Russia. While this appears to be the least threatening of the alternatives from a U.S. viewpoint, it is significant to recognize that the nuclear threat to the United States has never been greater.
The managed media has consistently presented a misleading view of the military posture of Russia, which continues to strengthen and modernize its weapons programs. Strategic nuclear missiles directed at the U.S. remain on alert and the obsolete systems being dismantled (some with U.S. aid) will be replaced by more high-tech weapons.
Strategic Rocket Forces Commander in Chief Igor Sergeyev, briefing the Duma, said:
"Strategic offensive arms are the main component of Russia's defense might. They include at most 10% of the entire army personnel and take up only 5-6% of the country's defense budget. They are not only the most reliable but also the cheapest component of our defense might, and they have a high level of combat readiness and capability."
It may come as a surprise to most of our readers that the Russian military has conducted several major strategic weapons exercises, which included mock nuclear attacks on the United States in 1993, on June 22, 1994, and from October 4-10, 1995.1
President Yeltsin signed a military doctrine in 1993 that reverses the "Gorbachev doctrine" of civilian preeminence over the military, and which renounced the Andropovera "no first use" nuclear pledge, propagandistic as it may have been. Their presently announced military doctrine is a first strike strategy. Even veterans of the old Communist Party think-tanks have expressed alarm. Military analyst Aleksei G. Arbatov commented in Nesavisimaya Gazeta, "A first strike strategy presupposes the unleashing of nuclear war."
In 1994, the Russian navy began retro-fitting its Typhoons to house the new SS-N-24/26 ballistic missile. In early 1995 it tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile, concealing the technical characteristics in violation of an arms agreement with the United States.
U.S. Navy intelligence estimates that Russia spent as much as $7.2 billion on submarine construction and modernization in 1994; $9 billion in 1995. Shipyards are building hard-to-detect nuclear attack subs, including the Akula II and the completely new Sverodvinsk class.2
Reform and arms control have little to do with reductions. First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladimir Zhurbenko says the missiles, with aging electronics and highly corrosive fuel, "are at the end of their useful life." The giant, 10-warhead SS-18s need to be dismantled "because of their age, irrespective of the [START] treaty." Three years before the U.S. "Cooperative Threat Reduction" aid, Gen. Sergeyev told Russian journalists that while certain ICBMs would be scrapped, "the combat readiness of strategic missiles will not decline in any way. The obsolete systems will be replaced with up-to-date ones."
One of the replacements is the TOPOL-M, a three-stage variant of the SS-25. On Sept. 5, just hours before the U.S. Senate voted to build a national ballistic missile defense system by 2003, the military test-launched a TOPOL-M prototype at Plesetsk cosmodrome, 600 miles north of Moscow. Announcing the launch, Military Space Forces spokesman Igor Safronov told TASS that 90 of the 154 SS-18 silos on Russian territory will be converted to house the TOPOL-M. The missiles will also be based on eight-axled mobile launchers to conceal them from detection. "Russia hopes to replace all its outdated missiles in the coming years," commented Safronov. These advanced missiles can be targeted in seconds and are only 30 minutes away from U.S. cities.
The General Staff briefed the Duma that a new generation of air-launched cruise missile is in production. The next generation multi-role strategic "stealth" bomber, the Sukhoi-T60S, is also reportedly under development. Advanced nuclear warheads are also in the works, according to Atomic Energy Minister Victor Mikhaflov. In January the Pentagon detected seismic activity consistent with a low-yield nuclear blast at the underground arctic nuclear test center at Novaya Zemlya, even though Moscow had pledged in 1992 to stop such detonation.
When the Soviets were in power, we knew the elaborate procedures which were in place to prevent a nuclear accident. With uncertainties associated with the power grabs going on, and their upgraded offensive capabilities, the horizon appears ominous. One wonders why our Congress isn't making more of a fuss over these issues and the dangers being masked by the Executive Branch of our government. Magog does, indeed, appear to be positioning itself.