Russia’s weapons

Russia’s weapons
Russia has successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, which the government has deemed “invincible.” According to the authorities, this could deliver a warhead..

Russia has successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, which the government has deemed “invincible.” According to the authorities, this can deliver a warhead in supersonic speed.

Background

The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation was established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The three "branches of Armed Forces" are: the Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, and the Navy. In 2010, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimated that the Russian Armed Forces numbered about 1,027,000 active troops and in the region of 2,035,000 reserves (largely ex-conscripts). According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in the period between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, Russian exports of major weapons increased by 37%; Russia spent $66.4 billion on arms in 2015, then $69.2 billion in 2016, having taken 3rd place (after the U.S. and China).

The Russian military is one of the most formidable and modern military forces in the world and its fleet is comparable to that of the US. Russia is now almost an equal to the U.S. as a power broker in the Middle East. The Kremlin is backing the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war and has become an increasingly powerful presence in Middle East politics.

In recent weeks, in the run up to the Russian general elections, current President Vladimir Putin has spoken increasingly about the Russian military might. According to Putin, the weapons developed by Russia will easily render NATO defenses "completely useless.” The nation has reportedly developed a highly advanced arsenal of nuclear weapons.

He spoke about the various weapons that have been developed in the country and stated, “Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody listened to us. Listen now."

He highlighted the prowess of specific weapons including low-flying cruise missile capable of stealth operation. "Since the range is unlimited, it can manoeuvre as much as necessary," Putin said. He also added about the West, “They need to take account of a new reality and understand ... [this]... is not a bluff."

His statements have caused concern in Washington which perceives Russia as a challenger and a threat to its sovereignty.

Analysis

According to the Russian government, the nation has just successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile. This is among the new nuclear weapons that President Putin had mentioned during a recent address.

"A MiG-31 fighter crew of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted a combat training launch of a hypersonic missile of the Kinzhal high-precision air missile system in the designated area," the ministry said in statement Saturday."The hypersonic missile confirmed its technical operational performance and timing data of the Kinzhal missile system," the statement said.

The ministry said that, due to the high flight characteristics of the MiG-31 aircraft and advanced high-manoeuvrable hypersonic technology, "the Kinzhal has no analogues in the world" - a claim US officials have downplayed as "election rhetoric" ahead of Russia's presidential vote on March 18.

Earlier Putin had described the Kinzhal as an “ideal weapon.” The weapon can travel at a speed that is 10 times faster than the speed of sound. It also has a large range. Reports note that Kinzhal’s range is 2,000kms.

"The launch went according to plan, the hypersonic missile hit its target," the ministry said.

The current US administration has recently spoken about President Putin’s rhetoric. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, “Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems for over a decade, in direct violation of its treaty obligations. President Trump understands the threats facing America and our allies in this century and is determined to protect our homeland and preserve peace through strength," she added. "US defence capabilities are and will remain second to none."

Assessment

Our assessment is that the latest development indicates that Russia plans on further increasing its political influence globally to rival the one wielded by the US. The existence of such weapons could play a decisive role in conflicts unfolding in the Middle East. However, there are concerns that this could spark yet another arms race between the US and Russia.

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