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February 23, 2016 No.
6320

Russia Takes Countermeasures In Response To Washington's Plans To Increase Funding For Military Forces In Europe

On February 5, 2016, the Russian media outlet RBC Daily reported on military countermeasures that Russia is taking in response to America's increased funding for military forces in Europe and to the increased military exercises in NATO countries.[1] According to the article, these countermeasures include the formation of new divisions on the Western border and the development and deployment of new weapons and military gear.

It should be noted that Sergey Karaganov, a professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, pointed out that, as early as 2007-2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of increased military confrontation in Europe 'should the West's [military] expansion reach Ukraine.' In an interview with the Russian magazine New Times, Karaganov claimed that it was in those years that the Americans decided to start the process of admitting Ukraine into NATO. Following this, he said, Putin arrived at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest and stated unequivocally that, if the notion of Ukraine joining NATO ever arose again, there would be no more Ukraine. And he kept this promise, albeit partially, commented Karaganov. [2]

The following are excerpts from the LBC article.[3]

Three New Divisions On The Western Border

"Russia will take countermeasures in response to Washington's plans to increase funding for military forces in Europe... 'The establishment of new [army] divisions is one of the measures that are being taken in response to the increased [military] exercises that have been observed recently in NATO countries,' stated the commander-in-chief of the Russian ground forces, Colonel General Oleg Salyukov, on January 22, 2016. He explained that three new divisions will be formed in the Western Military District and another will be located in the Central Military District.[4]

"According to Colonel General [Salyukov, these three new divisions] 'will be formed on the basis of existing brigades and their establishment should be complete by the end of 2016.' An RBC source close to the Ministry of Defense states that one of the new divisions will be the Separate Mechanized Rifle Brigade of the 20th Army, currently located in [the town of] Yelnya in Smolensk Oblast. The second division will be formed on the basis of the 33rd Separate Mechanized Rifle Brigade, which was transferred in March 2015 from Maikop [capital of the Republic of Adygea] to Novocherkassk in Rostov Oblast. The RBC source disclosed that the third division will be the reformulated 10th Guard Tank Division in Boguchar in Voronezh Oblast."

New Tank Army On The Western Border

"In early February, the Defense Ministry [also] announced the forming of the First Guard Tank Army in the Western Military District, headquartered in the Moscow area. It will include the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division and the Tamanskaya Mechanized Rifle Division, and several others. The tank army will be equipped with  T-72B3 and T-80 tanks, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, and over 130 other items of military gear, said the head of the Western Military District press service, Colonel Igor Muginov. Over 1,500 [live] fire [exercises] and other exercises are planned for the army in 2016ÔǪ"

New Fighter Jets

"Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu declared in early February that renewed production of the Tu-160 strategic fighter jets (NATO designation Blackjack) is a priority objective [for Russia]. Deputy Minister of Defense Yury Borisov later clarified that the ministry intends to order no fewer than 50 Tu-160 jets The Tu-160 can carry 10 tons of free-fall bombs or 12 strategic X-55SM cruise missiles (or the more accurate X-555) for hitting stationary targets. When fully loaded for combat, it is capable of flying up to 10,000 kilometers. The Russian Air Force currently owns 16 such aircrafts. The Tu-160 was first battle-tested in Syria, in November 2015."

Caliber Cruise Missiles

"The Caliber 3M-14 missiles (NATO classification SS-N-27 Sizzler) are able to hit targets at a distance of up to 2,000 km in any weather conditions and at any time of day. In order to approach the target at extremely low altitude, skirting the folds of the landscape, the missile is equipped with a GLONASS receiver, a radio altimeter and a radar homing head. The first combat launch, 40 years after the start of development, took place on the night of October 7, 2015, when four missile ships of the [Russian Navy's] Caspian Flotilla made a group launch of 26 rockets at objects of the Islamic State in Syria. A few months later, another four missiles were launched from a military submarine in the Mediterranean. In the future, dozens of ships will be equipped with the new cruise missiles, including nuclear submarines and the nuclear-guided cruiser, [informed] Admiral Nakhimov."

Submarines In The North Atlantic

"The commander of NATO's Allied Maritime Command, Clive Johnstone, stated on February 3 that commanders of NATO submarines in the North Atlantic have been reporting 'greater Russian submarine activity than was seen during the Cold War.' He has also noted the significant technological leap Russian vessels have made in recent times. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence warned in December 2015 that Russia's first order of business is to enhance its submarines with Caliber cruise missiles. This way, Russian vessels will be able to more effectively 'hold or destroy battle targets'. The agency [i.e., the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence] named 'construction of universal nuclear and non-nuclear submarines' as [Russia's] secondary objective. 2016 will see the launch of two non-nuclear vessels: Veliky Novgorod and Kolpino. Both will be equipped with the new Caliber missiles."

Exercises In The Western Military District

"The Ministry of Defense has announced approximately 800 key operative and battle exercises in the Western Military District for the year 2016. The District commander, Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, has promised over 300 unannounced inspections throughout the year. The most important exercise will be a bilateral command post exercise with two units. It will be conducted with the participation of formations and military units stationed on the territory of the Leningrad and Voronezh Oblasts. Another large-scale exercise in the northwest will be held within the air defense troops with live firing."

Advanced Weaponry

"A fifth-generation fighter jet (factory designation T-50) will enter into service in 2016, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev promised. Mass production may begin in 2017. Currently, only one serial fifth-generation fighter exists in the world: the American F-22 Raptor. Its distinctive features are low visibility, supersonic cruising speed and extreme maneuverability.

"Also in 2016, preliminary tests of the S-500 Prometheus anti-aircraft missile system should begin. The main purpose of the complex is to fight medium-range ballistic missiles. According to the developer of the complex, JSC Concern PVO Almaz-Antey, the S-500 can simultaneously detect and hit up to ten ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 7 km per second."

 

Endnotes:

[1] In October 2015 NATO held its largest military exercise in over a decade. Reuters, Oct 19, 2015. In early February 2016 it was reported that the U.S. intends to quadruple its expenditure on its troops and training in Europe, as part of an accelerating effort to deter Russia. AP, February 2, 2016.

[2] Newtimes.ru, February 15, 2016.

[3] Rbcdaily.ru,February 5, 2016.

[4] The Russian armed forces have four Military Districts: Western, Southern, Central and Eastern, and four corresponding Joint Strategic Commands.