Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia will add 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to its arsenal.
The 40 new ICBM is part of a $640.7 billion for a major modernization of the Russian Armed Forces.
In her book, Russian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, Bilyana Lilly, an expert on Eurasian affairs and security, wrote about the State Armaments Program Through 2020.
“In 2011, Russia adopted a military rearmament plan referred to as State Armaments Program Through 2020 (Gosudarstvennaya Programma Vooruzheniya , GPV -2020). The massive ten-year weapons modernization project was priced at about $640.7 billion (approximately 20 trillion rubles). According to estimates by Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute, the announced military modernization plans would entail the replacement of 45 percent of navy and army equipment by 2015.”
“I hope I’m mistaken about the possible increase in the Russian ICBM force after 2020. In fact, it seems more likely that the Russian economy will not be able to support the production and deployment of “over 400 modern land and sea-based inter-continental ballistic missiles” that President Putin promised in 2012.“
Putin made the announcement a day after Russia threatened NATO and the United States to move more soldiers, including tanks and artillery capabilities, to its western border and place more Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if a military equipment buildup by the US in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States was approved.
“More than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems will be added to the make-up of the nuclear arsenal this year,” Putin, flanked by army officers, said in a speech at an arms fair west of Moscow.
Putin gave no details about the production of the 40 ICBM, however. Yet, Russia has built new nuclear Borei-class submarines carrying submarine-launched Bulava SLBM. The RS-24 and RS-26 mobile launchers are also being made operational.
That said, the new ICBMs will most likely be carried on mobile platforms. However, the possibility of silo-launched ICBMs remains high.
Putin was clear that Russia keeps an operational nuclear arsenal to counter possible growing threats and could launch an ICBM at anytime if needed. Moscow also reserves the right to deploy ICBMs to Crimea.
Although Russia and NATO are bolstering their border’s defence, Putin will not be drawn into a new arms race.
Russia, however, is currently undergoing a massive rearmament and modernization phase. By 2020, Putin believes that 70% of the Russian military will be equipped at up-to-date and top-quality gear.
“I believe the statement must be looked at together with other similar statements, which have recently been numerous,” the deputy defense minister said. “A few days ago, reports started to turn up about certain [American] missiles put in a certain location and about certain ammunition depots in Eastern European countries and the Baltic. It looks like our colleagues from NATO member states are pushing us into an arms race,” Putin said.
The Russian economy might be staggering but Putin plans to use the defence industry to bolster its economic growth. The rising oil prices will also full Russia’s treasury once again, enabling them to keep social expenses while putting emphasis on its military’s modernization.
The addition of 40 new ICBM does not mean Russia is preparing for a nuclear war, however. The current modernization is most likely behind Russia’s decision to acquire those ICBM.
Russia, like every other country who has nuclear weapons, has the right to review its nuclear capability and make changes if need be.