Russian military expert Alexey Leonkov, the editor-in-chief of Arsenal Otechestva, was interviewed on the state-owned Russia-24 channel. He said that in the event of American aggression against Russia, American strategic targets in the West Cost and East Coast, including the Pentagon, would likely be crippled by the unmanned Poseidon craft, and that the entirety of U.S. territory is within range of Russia's Sarmat and Avangard missiles. Leonkov explained that Russia's Zircon missile is designed primarily as an anti-ship missile that can destroy American strike groups and that the noiseless submarines that carry the Zircon – such as the Borei- and Yasen-class submarines – are unlikely to be detected despite the modernization of American detection equipment. He also said that Europe would be unlikely to allow the U.S. to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in its territory, but that it might not be able to prevent the U.S. from doing so. The broadcast is against the backdrop of tensions between Russia and the U.S. surrounding American withdrawal from the INF Treaty after accusing Russia of violating the agreement. On February 20, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federation Council and commented on the America withdrawal from the INF Treaty. He warned Washington against deploying medium and short range missiles in Europe. This video was uploaded to the Internet on February 27, 2019.
Following are excerpts:
Anchor: Alexey Leonkov, the military expert and editor-in-chief of the magazine Arsenal Otechestva, is live with us. Hello, Alexey Petrovich.
Alexey Leonkov: Hello.
Anchor: So there's the Pentagon, the governmental and the presidential command centers, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff command center on the East Coast of the U.S. And there's the U.S. Strategic Command and nuclear command and control center on the West Coast. It's logical that all of these control centers are within the range of the promising missile Zircon. Could you tell us what each of these centers is responsible for?
Alexey Leonkov: You know, I should make a few remarks on the missile Zircon first. Actually, it's an anti-ship missile and mostly attacks strike groups of the potential enemy. As for those headquarters and control centers which are in charge not only of the ground forces but also of the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy – depending on their location – intercontinental ballistic missiles are likely to be used against them such as Samrat and hypersonit vehicle Avangard. They're likely to be designed to attack such command centers which will be in charge of all the missions in Europe, by the way, if there is an act of aggression against Russia.
Anchor: It's clear that the U.S. is aware of the vulnerability of their command centers located near the coastline, but they're likely to have command centers in the interior of the country. What can we do about such objects?
Alexey Leonkov: You know, it's clear that a part of the targets near the coastline will be hit with ballistic missiles. But we shouldn't forget about our unmanned vehicle Poseidon which will be used along the coastline. It'll cause practically total damage. It's clear that the Sarmat and Avangard missiles will hit the interior targets. They cover the entire U.S. territory. That's why the damage caused to the U.S. military infrastructure in case they want to unleash some aggression from Europe with respect to Russia will outweigh the benefits they strive to get from that military campaign.
Anchor: How vulnerable can Russian submarines and vessels armed with Zircon missiles be? Americans will watch them closely and develop security measures.
Alexey Leonkov: You know, we've been developing noiseless submarines for a long time. Our strategic Borei-class and Yasen-class submarines are recognized to be very difficult to detect by the Americans themselves. It means that they'll stealthily reach the positions where they'll launch ballistic missiles. Despite the fact the Americans are now trying to modernize their submarine early warning system, they're unlikely to detect all of our submarines. That's why everything they launch at the naval forces of the potential enemy, for example, let's call it like this so far, of course, can destroy such groups as a carrier strike group or carrier strike force consisting of three aircraft carriers and several escorts.
Anchor: What's the chance that Washington will explain the necessity to deploy its intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe by the fact that Russia has not only Kalibr missiles, but such missiles as Zircon?
Alexey Leonkov: Of course, Washington will try to explain its European allies that the deployment of nuclear intermediate-range missiles will enhance their security. But the Europeans aren't fools at all, and they'll realize that any deployment of such missiles immediately puts the territories where they're deployed under the threat of attack with our missiles. Then, the level of security reached in 1987 when the INF Treaty was signed will be completely destroyed. That's why I think that Europe is likely to fully resist this deployment but, as we know, Europe doesn't have enough sovereignty to oppose the U.S. directly.