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Russia in the 21st Century [Superthread]

I've only been to 2 or 3 of those places.  Just educated guessing on my part.
Russian academic on their nukes (including "escalation for de-escalation"), doctrine important for NORAD--excerpts:

Russia’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Reality Check

In 1991-1992, the US and the USSR/Russia put forward unilateral but reciprocal ‘presidential nuclear initiatives’ to reduce their respective stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). The thousands of such weapons the two countries had accumulated had become a burden for their owners. But TNWs to this day remain important for Russia’s military power, and the Kremlin’s aspiration for special status in the world. They are also intended to make up for problems with the precision and reliability of Russia’s conventional weapons.

The real Russian arsenal of TNWs is below most estimates: approximately 520 warheads, as opposed to figures ranging from 1,000-2,000. Against the backdrop of the confrontation with the West, Moscow is trying to take advantage of this discrepancy in numbers for foreign policy purposes. The key role is played by the doctrine of nuclear de-escalation, coupled with the intention to politically damage the system of America’s nuclear guarantees to its European allies. At the same time, the withdrawal of TNWs lowers the threshold for their use...

Modernisation of delivery systems

The number of Russian TNW delivery systems is also changing. In general, it is declining, due to the phasing out of old equipment. The introduction of new equipment is not keeping up with the pace of retirement of old systems.

Long-range aviation

Russia’s long-range aircraft include heavy (strategic) Tupolev Tu-95MS and Tu-160 bombers, which fall under the START-3 (Strategic Arms Reduction) Treaty, and Tu-22M3 strike bombers. There are 30-50 operational aircraft in Russia, while no more than 30 aircraft are scheduled for upgrading. Each is armed with three dual-capable Kh-22 cruise missiles (up to 600 km) and the Kh-32 upgraded version (up to 1,000 km) equipped with conventional warheads. It can also be deduced that the Tu-22M3 bombers will be upgraded with Kh-101/ Kh-102 strategic cruise missiles (range of up to 4,500 km) or their latest versions [emphasis added]. At the same time, it seems Moscow is considering the use of Kh-32 missiles on MiG-31 fighters. In other words, the Tu-22M3 can turn into a strategic bomber, and therefore fall under the START-3 Treaty and lose the status of a TNW carrier [if Tu-95MS and Tu-160 carry nuclear-armed Kh-102 cruise missiles those weapons are hardly "tactical"]...

Ships and submarines

By all accounts, the lion’s share of TNWs is intended for the Russian fleet. On paper, nearly 120 ships and submarines can carry hundreds of nuclear-armed cruise missiles, torpedoes and mines. Modernisation of these weapons systems is significant. At least four out of eight Antey (Oscar II) cruise missile submarines are being rearmed with Onyx and Kalibr missile systems, which have superseded the nuclear-capable Granit cruise missiles; this has increased the operational stock. Moreover, four out of 11 Shchuka-B (Pike-B) nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) are being upgraded with the Kalibr. The remaining SSNs will either be rearmed or retired [subs with nuked cruise missiles also not necessarily "tactical" and must concern NORAD].

Potentially, the Kalibr is a dual-capable cruise missile. Annually, Russia produces approximately 180 Kalibr-type missiles in various versions, including fewer than two dozen Kalibr-NK long-range cruise missiles. The Granit missiles will be replaced with conventional hypersonic Zirkon cruise missiles carried by ships and submarines. Most probably, the dual-capable torpedoes are being gradually replaced by new conventional torpedoes.

In all likelihood, only P-1000 Vulkan cruise missiles (Varyag, Marshal Ustinov and Moskva missile cruisers, 16 missiles each) capable of carrying warheads will be operational in the 2020s. Also, Nanuchka-class corvettes (12 missile ships) armed with dual-capable medium-range (of up to 150 km) Malakhit anti-ship cruise missiles will remain in service. However, it is doubtful that these missiles will carry nuclear warheads, given that they were initially designed for the Soviet Chaika (Charlie II) submarines...

De-escalation doctrine

Some experts question the very existence of this concept. However, as stipulated in Article 37 of The Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Naval Operations for the Period until 2030, ‘During an escalation of military conflict, demonstration of readiness and determination to employ non-strategic nuclear weapons capabilities is an effective deterrent [emphasis added].’ Readiness to employ TNWs can be demonstrated by methods such as the simulation of a nuclear attack. In 2013, Russia simulated attacks on Sweden; in the case of real warfare, Russian forces could initially launch a demonstration nuclear strike in an uninhabited area, or a part of the ocean away from shipping routes. Russian long-range and anti-submarine aircraft would probably play the key role in such an operation [emphasis added].

On the one hand, the shrinking of the Russian TNW stockpile paradoxically lowers the threshold for its use, since the political leadership has the illusion of having control over the consequences [emphasis added]. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that American TNWs have largely been converted into political capital, which requires immense investments. Against the backdrop of the confrontation with the West, Moscow is tempted to devalue this capital. This can be done either by increasing pressure so that the Europeans demand the withdrawal of TNWs from their bases, or by putting forward a peace initiative for TNW withdrawals. The growing gap between the existing arsenal and non-operational stock could generate a spectacular effect if this initiative is accepted.

Not exactly re-assuring.  How will NORAD/USAF/RCAF cope?


From "Summary" of major report by Royal Institute of International Affairs:

Russia’s New State Armament Programme: Implications for the Russian Armed Forces and Military Capabilities to 2027

While Western observers should be prepared to see Russia's armed forces become more capable over the next decade, they should avoid exaggerating the threat posed by these developments


The newly approved state armament programme (GPV 2027) will form the basis of Russia’s defence procurement and military priorities until 2027. It is expected to build on the progress made under the previous programme, GPV 2020, and further strengthen and modernize the Russian armed forces.

GPV 2020 helped revitalize sections of the Russian defence-industrial complex (OPK). New capital stock was installed, higher wages attracted younger and better-qualified workers, and production lines underwent a shift towards serial production of equipment for the first time in the post-Soviet era. This bodes well for GPV 2027. Some of the problems Russia encountered when developing and introducing weapons systems for GPV 2020 are likely to have been overcome by 2020. As a result, the defence industry looks set to start GPV 2027 from a much better position compared with where it started GPV 2020...

GPV 2027 will guide defence procurement and the modernization of the armed forces. The modernization of Russia’s strategic nuclear triad is expected to remain a priority. While the navy is likely to receive less funding and prioritize the acquisition of smaller vessels, the ground forces can expect a larger share of funding than before. Meanwhile, the country’s Aerospace Forces (VKS) will probably concentrate on filling existing gaps in procurement (especially with regard to transport aircraft), as well as on boosting power-projection capabilities and force mobility. Air defence systems, and the honing of deterrence and anti-access capabilities, will probably keep playing an important part in military planning.

Implementation of GPV 2027 will necessarily be affected by external and internal factors. Issues such as production capabilities, adaptation and technological development will continue to present challenges for the military industry throughout the 2020s.

Key external factors will include ‘lessons learned’ from operational combat experience in Ukraine and Syria since 2014, as well as negative impacts of targeted international sanctions on Russia’s defence sector and from the breakdown of military cooperation with Ukraine since 2014. Technological and tactical adaptations that have been developed to mitigate these challenges are expected to drive the implementation of GPV 2027.
Internal factors will include the struggle to modernize military equipment, the need to increase the effort around military R&D, and the existence of long-term, unresolved issues relating to the internal workings of the defence industry. These critical shortcomings are likely to remain in place throughout the implementation of GPV 2027.

By 2027, the Russian armed forces are likely to be considerably better equipped than they are today. Nevertheless, one should not overstate the pace of probable modernization. While some progress may be made in the development of new-generation equipment, the armed forces will probably still rely on a mix of legacy hardware and modernized Soviet systems alongside new designs. Providing Russia with 21st-century military capabilities and adapting its armed forces to today’s challenges will require sustained investment in modernization efforts and military R&D.

Little PAO info from today.

How Good Is Russia's Missile Defense? Israel Hit Moscow's Systems in Syria And Beat Them
(Newsweek, 15 May 18) Israeli strikes on targets in Syria last week took out several Russian missile defense systems and raised questions about the viability of Moscow’s military equipment.

US Intelligence Reports: Russia's New Hypersonic Weapon will Likely Be Ready for War by 2020
(CNBC, 15 May 18) A Russian weapon the U.S. is currently unable to defend against will be ready for war by 2020, according to sources with direct knowledge of American intelligence reports.

MarkOttawa said:
From "Summary" of major report by Royal Institute of International Affairs:


Nothing wrong with upgraded Soviet era equipment being used alongside the newer technology.  In many cases, I'd say this gives them a lot of benefits - older technology as a base doesn't necessarily mean it's poorer technology.  (One only has to look at the B-52 to see how older technology, when maintained and upgraded, can still be extremely relevant in modern times)

The use of their equipment is far more important than the improvements to the equipment itself, in my opinion.  A well deployed and skillfully operated T-72 or T-90 is a far bigger threat than a poorly positioned & operated Leopard 2A4 or Abrams (example, Turkey & Saudi Arabia)

Upgraded & more fuel efficient engines, upgraded fire control computers, upgraded ammunition types - Soviet era equipment isn't something to snub our noses at.  :2c:
Nice cruise missiles "tee hee":
Putin's 'unlimited range' nuclear missile crashed after 22 miles, US intelligence sources claim

The Kremlin has denied US claims that Russia's nuclear-powered cruise missile with “unlimited” range crashed after only 22 miles.

The weapon was one of a range of “invincible” nuclear arms announced by Vladimir Putin during a speech in March.

“Since its range is unlimited, it can manoeuvre as long as you want,” Mr Putin said. “For now, no one in the world has anything like this.”

But sources with direct knowledge of a US intelligence report told CNBC that four tests of the missile between November and February all resulted in crashes.

The longest flight lasted two minutes and covered 22 miles, while shortest ended only four seconds and five miles after launch, they said.

CNN previously quoted a US official as saying the cruise missile had crashed during tests...

After taking off with conventional fuel, the cruise missile is designed to be powered by a small nuclear reactor during flight.

Although Mr Putin had said the nuclear unit had successfully powered up and “provided the necessary level of thrust,” US intelligence claimed this component had failed to start.

Kremlin officials allegedly ordered the tests over objections from engineers that the weapon system was not ready.

The US intelligence report did not mention the health or environmental impacts potentially caused by damages to the missile's reactor.

Vladimir Putin first touted the cruise missile during a sabre-rattling March speech in which he said Russia had developed “invincible” nuclear arms including a glider warhead, hypersonic missile and underwater drone. One of the accompanying computer animations showed warheads raining down on Florida.

The “Dagger” hypersonic missiles Mr Putin mentioned were later displayed on the belly of MiG-31 jets roaring over Red Square during the annual Victory Day parade this month. 

More on hypersonics:

Russia Shows New Hypersonic Missile on Two MiG-31 Aircraft in Victory Day Rehearsals.



Apparently last week one of Russia's Borei-class SSBN's launched four SLBM's in under 15 seconds. Offhand I can't think of any nation launching multiple SLBM's like this.

Watch: Russia’s newest missile sub just launched four nuclear missiles in just 15 seconds SOFREP Original Content


Conducting test launches of long range, nuclear capable ballistic missiles may be seen as wantonly aggressive act when done by states like North Korea, but among the world’s established super powers, it’s seen primarily as a maintenance endeavor. The United States and Russia are both no strangers to launching ICBMs and similar platforms to test and train the personnel assigned to these powerful weapons systems, as well as a part of continued testing tied to modernizing each nations’ respective nuclear forces.

For the most part, these tests offer little more than a dramatic visual and accompanying public relations pieces about nuclear deterrence and countering global threats but occasionally, such tests offer an important glimpse into the mindset and approach of nuclear competitors. Last week, just such a launch took place in the White Sea, a sovereign Russian inlet near the border of Finland.

For the first time ever, one of Russia’s newest and most advanced class of submarines successfully fired a salvo of four submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) within a dauntingly short period of just 15 seconds. The submarine, named the Yuri Dolgoruky, is one of three operational Borei-class nuclear subs — a class of submarines designed to replace the nation’s aging Delta-class subs as Russia’s primarily submersible ballistic missile platform. The missiles, however, are the real feature of the show.

The Bulava missile platform has been touted as the cornerstone of the Russia’s future SLBM arsenal, and is the most expensive weapon system the nation has ever developed. The platform is truly intercontinental-target capable, with a claimed range of nearly 5,000 miles and six individual warheads housed within the nose, along with decoy warheads designed to confuse incoming interceptors. Each of those six active reentry vehicles is said to hold a 100-150 kiloton nuclear weapon — making each of the six separate reentry vehicles more than 6 times, and possibly as much as 10 times, as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

In this video, released by the Russian Ministry of Defense, four of these massive ballistic missiles can be seen firing from the sub in right around 15 seconds, but the submarine itself is capable of housing as many as 16 of these missiles. If the timing holds true through a full launch, that means these submarines are able to surface and unload all 16 missiles in about a minute. In that short window of time, those 16 missiles would rapidly become 96 separate nuclear reentry vehicles, along with more than a hundred dummy warheads closing on targets spread out over thousands of miles.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense’ statement, all four missiles covered approximately 3,500 miles before striking designated targets at the Kura range on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

While it’s important to note that the United States also has new, modernized ballistic missile submarines heading into service, the comparison between American and Russian missile submarines isn’t necessarily the point. These platforms aren’t designed to tangle with one another (like attack submarines) but instead serve as a nation’s hidden, last line of defense against nuclear war. Thanks to nuclear propulsion systems, these submarines can remain submerged and hidden for extended periods of time and do not require fuel stops that can offer the world a glimpse into the region your submarines are working in. Instead, they’re tasked with staying hidden and unleashing as much damage as possible on land based targets in the event of nuclear war.

Ultimately, that means it doesn’t matter whose ballistic missile subs are better, it’s more a question of who’s more adept at keeping them hidden in the event of war. Russia’s massive investment into this new class of submarines and their accompanying nuclear missiles serves, once again, as a reminder of the increasing emphasis Russia is placing on undersea warfare. With doomsday nukes like the Status 6 confirmed recently and successes in testing their Borei-class submarines, it appears that Russia has its sights squarely set on claiming dominance beneath the waves — and they may working toward having the equipment they need to do it.


Start of a lengthy, worrying piece:

Russian Air-Delivered Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Before starting a discussion of Russian non-strategic or tactical air-delivered nuclear weapons, it is important for the reader to understand that these weapons do not exist in isolation. They are part of what amounts to a Russian non-strategic nuclear Triad composed of: 1) ground-based nuclear capable short- to intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles; 2) a sea-based force of nuclear-capable cruise missiles carried on both surface ships and submarines; and 3) an air-delivered non-strategic nuclear force of Backfire bombers and a variety of long-range fighter aircraft which carry both nuclear bombs and nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles. Russia’s non-strategic nuclear Triad has the same resilience, flexibility, survivability, and defense penetration ability of Russia’s better known strategic Triad. Only Russia, and apparently China, have a non-strategic nuclear Triad [emphasis added]. Russia is secretive about its non-strategic nuclear capabilities, particularly its low-yield weapons; hence, it is unlikely that the picture derived from open sources is complete.

Russia routinely practices the first use of nuclear weapons in major theater exercises. Indeed, in 2014, Russian expatriate Nikolai Sokov wrote, “…nuclear exercises have been conducted with targets in Europe, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and even the continental United States,” and, “…all large-scale military exercises that Russia conducted beginning in 2000 featured simulations of limited nuclear strikes.”[1] The implication of this is that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in a variety of conflicts, including minor ones, which was suggested by its Secretary of the National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in October 2009. He said that existing policy allowed the first use of nuclear weapons even in “local” wars.[2] Indeed, in 2010, the official newspaper of the Far East Military District said, “To suppress a large center of the separatists’ resistance and to achieve minimal losses of the attacking troops a low-yield ‘nuclear’ attack was mounted against the enemy.”[3]

Russia’s strategy of limited nuclear strikes is characterized in the U.S. as an “escalate to de-escalate” nuclear strategy.[4] Russia calls its strategy “de-escalation of aggression,” but it does not characterize nuclear first use as “escalation.” The Russian belief is that its introduction of nuclear weapons will terminate the conflict in the Russian favor [emphasis added]. When Russia first announced its simulated first use of nuclear weapons in the Zapad 1999 theater war exercise, then-Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev asserted, “Our Army was forced to launch nuclear strikes first [in Zapad-1999] which enabled it to achieve a breakthrough in the theater situation.”[5] This is perhaps the classic high-level statement of Russia’s view regarding the impact of its introduction of nuclear weapons into a war against NATO.

Russia will not be invaded by NATO. The current focus of Russia’s strategy appears to be to deter a NATO counterattack after a Russian invasion of a weak NATO state (e.g., the Baltic republics) as former STRATCOM commander General (ret.) Kevin Chilton pointed out in April 2018 and what NATO Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Bradshaw said in February 2015.[6] In 2017, then-Director of the DIA Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart said Russia has built nuclear de-escalation “…into their operational concept, we’ve seen them exercise that idea…”[7]

Russia’s Non-Strategic Nuclear Capable Aircraft...

Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions.  He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.

Relevant post from 2015, note link at end:

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

More on Russian air force's Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Russia's Tu-22M3 Backfire Bomber Could Soon Be Armed with Hypersonic Weapons
Well, maybe.

Russia may test its Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aero-ballistic missile onboard the Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber , which would greatly extend the number of targets Moscow could hold at risk with the new weapon.

The missile is currently launched from onboard the Mikoyan MiG-31K variant of the Mach 2.83 capable Foxhound interceptor, but the Kinzhal might be better operationally suited for a bomber.

“I believe it is speed that matters,” retired Lt. Gen. Mikhail Oparin, former commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces Long Range Aviation branch, told the state-owned TASS news agency .

“The MiG-31 has higher supersonic speed than the Tu-22M3 but now that a possibility has emerged to test the missiles aboard a long-range plane, this has to be done. This will raise the combat potential of the Aerospace Force and add might to it.”

While adding the Kinzhal to the Backfire’s arsenal might be operationally useful for the Russian air force, it remains to be seen if the Tu-22M3 is capable of accelerating the weapon into the correct launch parameters.

Though the Tu-22M3 is capable of reaching speeds of about Mach 1.88, it does not quite have the sheer acceleration, speed or altitude of the MiG-31K...

The Russians claim that the Kinzhal—which is based on the 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missile—is effectively invulnerable to existing ballistic missile defenses because of its maneuverability in flight...

“This is a class of precision weapons fitted with multifunctional combat capabilities making it possible to strike both stationary and mobile targets,” Russian deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told TASS .

“Specifically, aircraft carriers and cruiser-class warships, destroyers and frigates are potential targets for this weapon.”

According to TASS, the Russian Ministry of Defense is expected to test the Kinzhal missile onboard the Tu-22M3, citing a source in the Russian defense industry.

With a claimed range of over 1,200 nautical miles and a speed of Mach 10, the addition of the Kinzhal missile would significantly boost the Backfire’s capabilities to strike land and maritime targets across Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and the North Atlantic regions.

While Western experts harbor some doubts about just how operational the Kinzhal missile is, the Russians insist that the weapon is operational onboard the MiG-31K. Moscow claims that its MiG-31K crews have already flown more than 250 training flights with the new weapon...

Thus, it is likely that the Kinzhal is probably operational in a limited capacity, but eventually the weapon will likely be deployed more widely as it becomes more mature. It is also likely that the Kinzhal will probably be integrated on other Russian strike platforms such as the Tu-22M3, Tu-160 Blackjack or even large fighter aircraft such as the Su-30SM that can reach high supersonic speeds.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter:  @davemajumdar.

Russia showed off its new nuclear torpedo.I wonder if its sub launched or surface launched ?I guess we would half to track these as it leaves port.Just follow the glow. ;D


The Russians have moved 2 Tu-160's opposite Alaska. Should keep ALCOM on their toes. Although the F22 shouldnt have a problem.


Very interesting by Julian Lindley-French (Senior Fellow of the Institute of Statecraft, Director of Europa Analytica & Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, National Defense University, Washington DC) on German foreign policy and Russia--excerpts:

Norsdstream 2 and Germany's Two-Legged Foreign Policy

Apparently, it did not go terribly well. Officially Saturday’s meeting between Kanzlerin Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the late-Baroque splendour of the Schloss Meseberg discussed Ukraine, Syria, Iran and the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project.  The meeting, like so many Russo-German meetings of late, involved ‘hard talking’ but made little official progress. And yet, in spite of the tensions, Nordstream 2 just ploughs ahead tying Russia and Germany ever closer together in mutual energy dependency and threatening to by-pass much of Eastern Europe with profound security implications. Nordstream 2 also reveals the two legs of contemporary German foreign policy which is both legalistic and mercantilist at one and the same time.

German foreign policy is increasingly neither European nor transatlantic, just German...

Nordstream 2 should thus be seen less as a pipeline pumping Russian gas directly to Germany and beyond, but rather as a gigantic money-transfer conduit designed to keep Russia afloat. Berlin has reason to be concerned about Russia’s stability and all points European in between. In 2017 the Carnegie Moscow Centre stated: “A substantial part of Russia’s production capacity – more than 40% by some estimates – is both technologically and functionally obsolete and cannot produce competitive and marketable products. For instance, Russia’s machine stock has shrunk by almost a half in the last ten years…Over the next few years, we can expect a decline in investment…This downward spiral will eventually lead the country to economic collapse”. In other words, President Putin is committed to exactly the same course of action as the Tsars (both White and Red) before him: a level of strategic ambition that simply cannot be sustained over the medium to long-term and which unless mitigated or changed will lead to a crunch.  If Russia catches a bad cold the rest of Europe…

...Viewed from Berlin Germany is surrounded by supplicant states all either seeking German money, German blessing or both on a continent in which only Germany can guarantee order. That includes Britain and France. And yet Germany still seems ill-at-ease with the very idea of German power and leadership. It is strategic recalcitrance that could well flunk lead Berlin to flunk the hard test that is inevitably coming Germany’s way.

Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, suggests the problem with German foreign policy is that it does not want to get ‘wet’, i.e. face hard realities when things go wrong and have the will and the means to do something about them. It is also why the Nordstream 2 strategy could fail. Given the nature of the Putin regime, Moscow might simply use the new gas money that will flow up Nordstream 2 to further reinforce the very tools of international coercion which threaten other Europeans and upon which Russia has been investing for a decade since the August 2008 invasion of Georgia. What price gas then?

...Unfortunately, German foreign policy is also a two-legged stool critically lacking a third leg – hard power. Back to Germany and Russia.  Today, Russia commences Vostok 2018, the largest Russian military exercise for forty years, Germany’s weakness is that its foreign policy is an ‘anything but war’ policy, whilst Russia’s foreign policy is ‘war or the threat of war as a means to an end’ policy.. At Meseberg these two very different ideas of power tried to speak to each other and failed, which is why Europeans will continue to need American engagement in its affairs.  Sadly, Russia will not be a ‘normal’ power (nor have a future) until it reduces the level of state investment in intimidating others and starts investing in its own people. Germany will not really be a normal power until Berlin recognises that ‘shit happens’ when dealing with the likes of Putin’s Russia – big shit! It is not Russian power that is a threat to Europe but Russian economic weakness in conjunction with an over-bearing and unaffordable Russian security state. No amount of money Germany pours into Russia via Nordstream 2 will avert eventual Russian collapse unless Berlin can convince Moscow to change course...

... German foreign policy which is both legalistic and mercantilist at one and the same time....

The anti-thesis of liberalism, and unfortunately Germany is not alone in its preference for Colbertism and an authoritarian Natural Order.
tomahawk6 said:
The Russians have moved 2 Tu-160's opposite Alaska. Should keep ALCOM on their toes. Although the F22 shouldnt have a problem.


Actually, they were only there temporarily before redeploying them back to their home base.
Let's see the Russians have flooded the Atlantic with subs and they test ALCOM defenses with bombers and have done so for years. Coincidence ? No.
Not clear if this baby of Putin's such a bright idea (further links at original):

Nuclear-powered missile crashed in Barents Sea, intelligence report allegedly claims
While Vladimir Putin bragged about the invincible new missile in his annual speech to the nation, a U.S. intelligence report claims each of the four tests crashed.

It is CNBC that reports about one of the missiles being lost at sea after a test late last year. The news channel refers to sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report about Russia’s nuclear-powered missile program.

A search and recover mission will try to lift the crashed missile from the seabed, but the CNBC report is unclear about if the location of the missile is known or not.

The recover mission will include three vessels, the report says. One of the ships carry equipment to handle radioactive material from the missile’s reactor core.

If the miliary know the exact location of the crash site, a recovery operation would not be too difficult. The Barents Sea is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 230 meters. Some areas near the shores of Novaya Zemlya are deeper with a depth of about 300 meters.

In March, the Barents Observer reported about the first speculations that Russia’s new nuclear-powered missiles could be the source of the mysterious radioactivity measured in the air over northern Europe, including Norway’s border area to Russia in the north. Tiny small amounts of radioactivity were measured several times last year and early this year.

In July, the Russian online Popular Mechanics published a longer article detailing the nuclear-powered missile and earlier Soviet plans to take advantage of using nuclear reactors to power both planes and missiles for military purposes.

The reactor, which is very small in size, is likely using highly enriched uranium-235 as fuel. The core diameter is less than half a meter.

A question still unanswered though, is whether the reactor started or not after the initial launch of the missiles. When Putin bragged about the unbeatable cruise missile in his speech to the nation in March, a video animation of the missile launch was displayed on big screens. The video shows the launch at Novaya Zemlya and the first few seconds of the flight.

The video of the launch site has later been analyzed by comparing satellite images via Google Earth and located to be the old observation station Pankovo at Novaya Zemlya. This location is in the outskirts of the nuclear test range and was used until 1961 to observe atmospheric nuclear bomb explosions taking place some few tens of kilometers further north. Satellite images comparing Putin’s video with the actual landscape is published at the blog-forum Military Russia.

The flight path starts at Pankovo, continues over shore for the first few seconds, then turn north over the waters at the inlet of the Matotchkin Shar dividing the northern and southern islands of Novaya Zemlya, before continuing towards the Sukhoy Nos, which is believed to be the impact area for the test. Sukhoy Nos north of the Matochkin Shar was a testing range for atmospheric nuclear bombs, including the 52 Megatons so-called Tsar-bomb, the largest nuclear devise ever tested in history...


Russia apparently tried to recreate the SLAM (Supersonic Low Altitude Missile) AKA Project Pluto, which was one of those crazy ideas that kept posting up in the Cold War. Although the Americans did some research and even wind tunnel tests, the idea of an unshielded nuclear ramjet spewing radioactive death from the exhaust was a little too extreme even for that time period (the only way to stop the thing if it was launched was to crash it into the middle of the ocean, so the reactor could be entombed under the sea for thousands of years....)


The fact the Russians apparently were unable to make it work despite decades of much more advance knowledge of nuclear energy and material science does make the claims back in the 60's a little bit suspect......
With all the discussion of Russian involvement in life, the Universe and everything these days we seem to be forgetting the works of these people:

Oleg Gordievsky  "colonel of the KGB and KGB resident-designate (rezident) and bureau chief in London"
Vasili Mitrokhin    "major and senior archivist for the Soviet Union's foreign intelligence service, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB,"
Viktor Suvorov    "joined the Soviet mission to the United Nations Office at Geneva, working undercover for the Soviet military intelligence service (GRU)"
Stanislav Lunev  "a GRU intelligence officer in Singapore in 1978, in China from 1980, and in the United States from 1988"

The Soviet Union wisely spent more money on funding of U.S. anti-war movements during the Vietnam War than on funding and arming the VietCong forces.
- Stanislav Lunev, highest ranking GRU officer to defect from the USSR

https://medium.com/@JSlate__/how-the-soviet-union-helped-shape-the-modern-peace-movement-d797071d4b2c  (an interesting read for those that weren't there).

Mitrokhin's First Chief Directorate

The First Main Directorate (or First Chief Directorate, Russian: Первое главное управление, Pervoye glavnoye upravleniye) of the Committee for State Security under the USSR council of ministers (PGU KGB) was the organization responsible for foreign operations and intelligence activities by providing for the training and management of covert agents, intelligence collection administration, and the acquisition of foreign and domestic political, scientific and technical intelligence in the Soviet Union. The First Chief Directorate was formed within the KGB directorate in 1954, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union was renamed as the Central Intelligence Service and finally the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR RF). Although the agency SVR restyle in 1991 implies a generic foreign surveillance activity, the primary foreign intelligence service in Russia and the Soviet Union has been the GRU, a military intelligence organization and special operations force


And on Putin and the KGB

In 1975, Putin joined the KGB and trained at the 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad.[31][45] After training, he worked in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence), before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate, where he monitored foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad.[31][46][47] From 1985 to 1990, he served in Dresden, East Germany,[48] using a cover identity as a translator.[49] Masha Gessen, a Russian-American who has authored a biography about Putin claims, "Putin and his colleagues were reduced mainly to collecting press clippings, thus contributing to the mountains of useless information produced by the KGB."[49] According to Putin's official biography, during the fall of the Berlin Wall that began on 9 November 1989, he burned KGB files to prevent demonstrators from obtaining them.[50]

After the collapse of the Communist East German government, Putin returned to Leningrad in early 1990, where he worked for about three months with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov.[47] There, he looked for new KGB recruits, watched the student body, and renewed his friendship with his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, soon to be the Mayor of Leningrad.[51] Putin claims that he resigned with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 20 August 1991,[51] on the second day of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt against the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[52] Putin said: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", although he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs".[53]


The collected works of the four gentlemen at the top should make for interesting reading for some of the younger members.

Paper Tigerski:

Don’t Be Fooled By Russia’s Latest War Games

The week-long exercises, which kicked off yesterday, are intended as a show of might. But the country is in no position to wage a real conflict.

The headline figures for Russia’s Vostok (or “East”) military exercises, which began yesterday, are dramatic: 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 tanks and other vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, operating across more than half the country. That’s double the size of the British armed forces. It’s also twice the size of the last Vostok wargames, held back in 2014. As if that weren’t enough, some 3,200 Chinese troops and 30 aircraft are also involved, along with a small Mongolian force.

The bottom line is that Russia lacks the cash and the transport capability to move this many troops without causing disruption. But Russia is happy to see the world swallow that 300,000 figure because, like an animal puffing out its fur and baring its teeth when faced with a predator, it wants to look as formidable as possible. As an authoritarian nation, it spends more than it should on its military—more than a third of the total federal budget goes on security, broadly defined. Putin has certainly managed to turn the demoralized and depleted armed forces he inherited into a capable, competent army.


Meanwhile, back at hypersonics:

Russia hits a snag in developing a hypersonic weapon – after Putin said it was already in production

    Russia is currently unable to find a source for the critical carbon fiber components needed for one of its hypersonic weapons, according to people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report.
    Yet, these people added, the weapon is still on track to achieve its initial operational capability by 2020 because Moscow has prioritized this program.
    The Kremlin is slated to conduct another flight test of the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle by the end of the year.

Russia is currently unable to find a source for the critical carbon fiber components needed to make one of its hypersonic weapons, despite President Vladimir Putin's claims that the device has already entered serial production, according to people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report.

A hypersonic weapon can travel at least five times the speed of sound, or about one mile per second. What's more, the U.S. is currently unable to defend against this breed of threat.

The Kremlin considers their current carbon fiber material unreliable and is therefore looking for another source. Yet, the people added, Moscow has prioritized the program, and so the weapon is still on track to achieve initial operational capability by 2020 [emphasis added].

The next flight test is slated for December, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The body of the hypersonic glide vehicle cannot withstand the heat on re-entry, and therefore the internal systems fail," this person explained to CNBC. "The Russians therefore need a better material because they have an upcoming test and they don't think the material used to construct the body provides enough thermal protection."..

The latest revelations come less than eight months after Putin touted his nation's growing hypersonic arsenal as "invincible."

The hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed Avangard, was one of the six weapons Putin presented in March. Avangard is designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile and uses aerodynamic forces to sail on top of the atmosphere.

Putin claimed Avangard was capable of reaching targets at a speed of 20 times the speed of sound and strikes "like a fireball." He also said that the hypersonic warhead had already entered serial production.

"Certainly, heat management is a huge challenge; you know, you have this thing that is going through the atmosphere at very high speeds and potentially for a long period of time," said James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace...