Russian Defense Minister orders to expedite new missile development to counter US

Russia will have to develop new types of weapons in a limited time frame in response to the US’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said in a conference call on Tuesday.

The defense industry has been given two years to create a ground-based variant of the Kalibr system with the long-range cruise missile that “proved itself” in Syria according to Shoygu.

“In this same time frame, we will have to create a ground-based missile system with a long-range hypersonic missile,” the minister added, emphasizing that all these measures are a necessary part of the “mirror response” to the US’s actions.

“They are actively working to create ground-based missiles with a range greater than 500km that exceeds the treaty limits. In connection with this, the Russian President has instructed the Defense Ministry to take response measures,” Shoygu said.

According to the Russian general, there is no need for additional funds to be allocated from the federal budget, the new projects will simply be allocated funding from the existing resources of the state arms program. The most recent version of the program was signed by President Putin at the start of 2018, and allocates 22 trillion rubles ($335 billion) to arms production and procurement for the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, Russian National Guard and other departments.

“Using sea and air-based missiles in ground usage will make it possible to significantly reduce the production times of the new missile weapons and the financing [required],” Shoygu emphasized.

Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko has been tasked with overseeing the budget for the new missiles. He is expected to “initiate the relevant development activity in a short time as part of the allocations for the 2019 state defense order and the 2020-2021 planned period by reallocating funds to carry out the mentioned operations,” Shogyu said.

On 2 February, the US announced that it was suspending the INF Treaty, five years after former President Barack Obama sent Putin an official letter accusing Russia of violating the 1987 agreement, which prohibits the testing and deployment of missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. Before the treaty, the Soviet Union had missiles of this category aimed at NATO’s European member-states.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that if Russia fails to return to compliance with the treaty within six months, the US will completely break off the treaty.

Over the next 10 years, Washington intends to invest $494 billion in a completely updated “nuclear triad”, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. This is 23% more than was proposed by last year’s long-term military budget ($400 billion).

The Pentagon will allocate $234 billion to maintaining and upgrading the nuclear weapons delivery systems; $15 billion will be used to finance tactical nuclear weapons, and $106 billion to develop new systems.

The new arms will include reduced capacity W76-2 warheads and new cruise missiles for submarines. The US also intends to add 12 new nuclear submarines to its fleet.

  Russia, Shoygu, INF Treaty, USA, Pompeo, Russian Defense Ministry, Obama