What are the options for a military response by the Russian Federation to the possible deployment of US medium-range missiles in Europe?
Last Friday, at an official briefing on nuclear missile safety, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced that Russia intends to take the most decisive actions in order to protect the country in the changing conditions of the termination of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) )
– With Washington’s refusal of the INF Treaty, – she said, – there is a real prospect of deploying US nuclear-weapon systems of the corresponding classes in various regions of the world. Of course, we will be forced, and the Russian leadership spoke about this, to take this negative factor into account in military planning. And if necessary, in practical terms, respond to emerging threats.
Zakharova emphasized that in the event of attempts by the Americans to deploy their new medium- and shorter-range missiles in close proximity to Russian borders, Moscow will take an exhaustive response to ensure the country’s security.
Also, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier announced a unilateral commitment not to deploy missiles that were the subject of the INF Treaty in those regions until “similar American-made weapons appear there.” Maria Zakharova, on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry, called on Washington, as well as its allies, to show responsibility and join this moratorium, which would bring predictability in military-political affairs.
Meanwhile, there are already clear prerequisites for the United States to begin planning to deploy missiles previously banned by the deadly treaty in the Asia-Pacific region. In Washington, it has been repeatedly stated that America is concerned about the presence of China’s medium and shorter-range ground-based missiles. And that it is necessary to balance the balance of power in the region. This, for example, was expressed by the adviser to the US president on national security, John Bolton. And Defense Minister Mark Esper on August 3 expressed himself more than specifically about the Pentagon’s interest in deploying “anti-Chinese” missiles of the corresponding classes in the Asia-Pacific region.
We already heard similar rhetoric immediately after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001. The Americans began the construction of powerful Euro-missile defense bases in Romania and Poland under the completely contrived pretext of protection against Iranian missiles. However, after a while it became clear that the main goal of this event was to weaken the potential of the Russian nuclear deterrence forces.
Something similar, it seems, is planned in Washington today. Under the motto of the need to confront the Chinese INF, which the United States can not threaten. At the same time, similar American missiles stationed in the region will threaten Russian territory.
So what can Russia do to make its response in the defense field “comprehensive”? That is – how to create a real and imminent threat not only and not so much to those countries that Washington will force to host the INF Treaty, but – first of all! – to the United States itself? So that Washington does not have the illusion of sacrificing Japan or Poland there, but at the same time be completely safe, as it was during World War II.
Of course, we will have to use the corresponding resources of our Long-Range Aviation, Navy and missile forces with maximum tension. No way without it!
Under certain conditions, Aero Space Forces Long-Range Aviation aircraft are capable of delivering appropriate ammunition to the United States even now. Both in conventional and in nuclear equipment. And in the shortest possible time. But to reduce flight time to minutes, Russian combat vehicles must be based in the immediate vicinity of the North American mainland. One such bridgehead for Russia is quite real right now – this is Venezuela. There are already precedents for partner visits to this country of our strategic missile carriers Tu-160 in 2013 and 2018.
So, if necessary, Moscow is likely to permanently deploy from two to four “White Swans” with the corresponding missile weapons in this country.
There is still Cuba. However, the relationship between two countries today is not such to build its own air base for strategic and front-line on this island (to Florida, Su-34 aircraft could easily get from there). However, nothing is impossible in the field of diplomacy. There are mechanisms that can revive the closest military-technical cooperation with Havana.
Another option is the use of long-range Tu-22M3 bombers from the Anadyr airfield in Chukotka. Alaska from there — is just a stone’s throw! And Washington is not so much – 6500 km. It is unlikely that by 2003 the Aerospace Forces began to revive this most important airdrome abandoned after the collapse of the USSR. And in August 2018, the first pair of Tu-160 landed on it very revealingly for the United States. But it’s even easier than the heavy Tu-160s to put much lighter long-range T-22M3 bombers (in the NATO terminology “Backfires”) at this updated air base.
Yes, the combat radius of Backfire for striking from Chukotka is, for example, relatively small in Washington (2,400 km). However, a technical restoration of the possibility of refueling this missile carrier in the air is underway. Then all sorts of talk about the insufficient range of the “Backfire” will become baseless. Because the number of refueling will be limited only by the endurance of the crew.
It is appropriate to recall that the Tu-22M3 had such capabilities initially. But at the insistence of the Americans in the preparation of the START-2 treaty, refueling rods were dismantled from all these combat vehicles. Now, after modernization, Russia will receive a fairly effective means of deterring American arbitrariness – each Backfire can be equipped with three X-32 supersonic high-precision cruise missiles. They were adopted only two years ago. They have a range of 1000 km and reach speeds of up to 4.6 M.
Well, and finally, air patrols in the Arctic region can be made much more regular by our truly long-range strategic missile carriers Tu-95 and Tu-160. They generally have no need to approach the North American mainland, having on the boat high-precision cruise missiles X-101/102 in conventional and nuclear equipment. The firing range of such weapons reaches 5500 km.
The naval component of Russia’s response may be the use of both multipurpose nuclear and diesel-electric strike submarines with the Caliber complex on board. The maximum firing range which reaches 2600 km.
Only in the early 2030s did the Pentagon, having mastered information at a new level, hope to take over the world.
Of course, diesel Black Sea or Pacific “Varshavyanki” with “Caliber”, which have little autonomy, is unlikely to go to the shores of the United States in the threatened period. They should be ahead of time and quite openly placed somewhere close to the United States. And here again Venezuela can come to the aid of Russia.
And this option is already quite real today. During the last year’s visit to Venezuela of two White Swans, the An-124 Ruslan transport aircraft and the Il-62 passenger liner, the Russian military delegation on board discussed the issue of providing Moscow with a local aviation and naval base. This visit seriously excited the US State Department. Because the shortest distance from the Venezuelan coast to Washington is less than 4 thousand km.
With much greater autonomy than the Varshavyanka, the multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Yasen project (fourth generation) and Shchuka-B project (third generation) could also carry out covert patrols at a distance from the US coast sufficient to fire cruise missiles their most important administrative and political centers. In this case, replenishment of reserves and – in case of need! – crew changes can also occur in Venezuela. Or in Cuba.
All of the above applies to Russian weapons that already exist. The answer regarding non-strategic ground-based missile systems has not yet been seen. Even if we manage to quickly adapt the Caliber missiles to ground launchers, say, from the same Iskander OTRK, then they will not be able to threaten the United States territories (except Alaska) from anywhere. It will be necessary to race with the United States to develop a ground-based missile with a firing range of at least 5,000-6,000 kilometers.
In case of treacherous deployment of missiles by the States near the Russian borders, they would immediately respond adequately with their missiles.
Well, and finally, Russia has one more argument in the geopolitical dispute that has begun. And very weighty. This is a Poseidon submarine drone with a nuclear propulsion system and a 100-megaton warhead, capable of sneaking up on the US coast for a crushing blow.
You must admit: all of this may turn out to be quite enough for the Americans, weaned from bloody wars on their land, to lose all opportunity to sleep peacefully at night. But otherwise, we will not return them to the negotiation table on arms limitation.