On October 22 the Strategic Missile Forces performed the fifth testing launch of RS-12M2 Topol-M missiles (SS-27 according to the American classification) from Plesetsk cosmodrome. Having flown for some distance, the missile exploded. The public relations service of the Strategic Missile Forces hurried to announce that the missile was liquidated on the trajectory almost on purpose, and this was done “to provide for the safety of the experimental launches”. Meanwhile, the observers point out that a failure occurred during the tests. According to publication of information of Nezavisimaya Gazeta with reference to Strategic Missile Forces commander Vladimir Yakovlev, during the tests of the missile in Plesetsk a new trajectory was tested, which had never been used in the international practice before.

A failure during the tests is a usual matter, but it is interesting that only a few experiments were conducted with Topol, but already by the end of the year it is planned to place a whole regiment (10 missiles) of this type on the combat duty. How reliable will they be? Not only observers and experts, but also the country’s leaders, being in charge of the Russian nuclear missile potential, ask themselves this question after the failure of October 22. Topol represents a class of the missiles, which have to secure the country’s defense capability in the future. This is the only missile, which was completely developed and manufactured in Russia. Mobile ground mount RS-12 Topol was developed by the Moscow Thermal Equipment Institute under leadership of Boris Lagutin in 1983. The missiles of this class were adopted in December of 1988. The Strategic Missile Forces currently use 369 RS-12M systems, According to unclassified sources, the missile regiments, armed with this system, are deployed in Vypolzovo (Tver region), near Irkutsk, Yoshkar-Ola, Kansk (Krasnoyarsk territory), Nizhny Tagil (Ural), Novosibirsk, Teikovo (Ivanovo region) and Yurya (Kirov region).

In 1984 modified version of Topol class missile, RS-12M2 Topol-M was developed. Besides the mobile variant it also had the silo-based one. Topol-M had to replace the “Ukrainian” (that is, made in Dnepropetrovsk) heavy missiles RS-18 (Sotka), RS-20 (Satan), RS-22A and RS-22V (Skalpel, the silo-based and railway variants), which are currently used by the Strategic Missile Forces.

Due to the heavy “Ukrainian” missiles the combat capability of the Strategic Missile Forces is currently provided. According to Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, the Strategic Missile Forces are still combat-ready by 90% and form the basis of the Russian combat power. This year the Strategic Missile Forces made 21 successful launch of the missiles. 18 of them were the space rockets and 3- intercontinental ballistic missiles. The last launch of RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile with the increased accuracy of the target destruction in Kamchatka region was performed from Baikonur cosmodrome on October 7. The specialists are currently occupied with prolonging of the service time of RS-18 to allow the time for production of sufficient number of Topol-M, which will replace them. By September Votkinsky machine-building plant managed to manufacture 8 Topol-M missiles, and the regiment deployed in Tatishchevo will be completely armed with the new missiles. The specialists point out that the main advantage of new Topol missiles, deployed in Tatishchevo, is their ability to effectively overcome the anti-missile defense system. The missiles are equipped with the false warheads, which cheat the enemy’s anti-missile defense after separation from the missile’s warhead. In addition, according to the experts, Topol-M has a small active part of the flight trajectory (during which the engines operate), which hinders the missile’s detection by radars. All these tactical and technical characteristics of Topol-M are primarily based on the theoretical assumptions. The fact of the attempts to test the new trajectory of the missile demonstrates that its possibilities are not studied yet, and hence its improvement to the industrially serial level and adoption by the Armed Forces will evidently demand more time and money. The recent actions of the Kremlin and the government, targeted at reanimation of the Russian military-industrial complex, confirm this. According to the suggestion of Senior Vice Premier Anatoly Maslukov since January 1 financing of the research, associated with the strategic nuclear forces will be written as a separate line of the budget. According to Maslukov, the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Russia demand maintenance of the nuclear status of the country on the due level. For this purpose it is necessary to gradually include 30-40 Topol-M missiles into the Strategic Missile Forces annually since 2000. Of course, many efforts are necessary for this. In his interview to Krasnaya Zvezda Maslukov reported that along with re-arming of the Russian strategic forces it is also necessary to achieve limitation and reduction of the American nuclear potential. According to him, ratification of the START-2 treaty under the current conditions is one of the most important stages in this path. However Maslukov believes that this is not enough. It is necessary to move more rapidly towards the new START-3 treaty, the main parameters of which were coordinated by Yevgeny Primakov in Washington last September. In addition, stressed Maslukov, it is necessary to achieve observation of the Anti-Missile Defense Treaty of 1972 by the USA. He believes that “only in this case preserving of the mutual nuclear deterrence will be guaranteed”.

According to Maslukov, “if we give up the START-2treaty now, the world will not understand us”. He warns that in this case Russia would lose the possibility to influence the process of control over the mass destruction weapons, Maslukov concluded that “The most important thing today is that we are extremely interested in normal relations with the foreign countries. Confrontation with the West and a new uncontrollable armament race is similar to our death. I am for the complex solving of the strategic nuclear forces problems, one of the aspects of which should be ratification of the START-2.”

It seems that Defense Minister Igor Sergeev becomes an active adherent of Yury Maslukov. Speaking in the Chinese Academy of National Defense during his visit to China, with the report “Russian military doctrine and the problems of stability and security in the Asian-Pacific region”, he pointed out that under conditions of reforming of the whole military organization and certain lowering of the combat power of conventional forces the role of the nuclear deterrence factor for Russia’s security grows.

In case of a direct threat to the sovereignty and state integrity of Russia, which arose as a result of foreign aggression, Russia will consider the use of all available means, up to the nuclear weapons, to be possible, announced Sergeev.

He added that under the modern conditions the threat of a large-scale aggression against Russia in the traditional forms is “unlikely” in the near future. The most realistic is the possibility of appearance of the local wars and armed conflicts, which may grow into a large-scale regional war. The possibility of starting of several local wars simultaneous wars can not be excluded as well.

Last week Sergeev expressed the idea that in the future in the Russian Armed Forces a unified command of all country’s strategic nuclear forces may be organized. He also often mentioned that it will be the Strategic Missile Forces, which will form the basis of the strategic nuclear forces in the future, because they consume least of all money. Along with this it is the most powerful kind of the Armed Forces, which accounts fort 75% of the Russian nuclear potential, consuming only 5% of the military budget. Thus, the current condition of the Strategic Missile Forces allows the solving the tasks for provision of the country’s defense capability. There are some difficulties in creation of new kinds of missiles, but the country’s leadership wants to overcome these difficulties and preserve the status of a great nuclear power for Russia.