Russia is Encircled. The Colder War has been Initiated. A New Comprehensive Arms Control Measures are Urgently Needed

Remarks at the International Conference in Stockholm “The North – a Zone of Peace”

The Administration of Barack Obama that has gone into the history has sharply deteriorated the military-political situation on a global scale, particularly in Europe and the Middle East.

In Europe, as it was in the 60-80-ies of the last century, the cold winds of a new phase of the “Cold War” began to blow once again.

It is distinguished from the era of the "Cold War" of the past century by a qualitatively higher build-up of arms and intensification of large-scale military activities on the European continent in almost all areas of military policy and the achievement of absolute zero in the field of arms control, when any reasonable and substantive dialogue on the reduction of excessive weapons and the limitation of a large-scale military activities have actually fully stopped.

After the unconstitutional coup in Ukraine leading NATO member states under pressure from the USA, by citing unrealistic reasons, on April 1st,2014 have decided to launch a massive military buildup along the borders with Russia in the areas of northern, eastern and southern Europe.

Strategic nuclear arsenals

Barack Obama has spent more money than previous U.S. Administrations on nuclear weapons’ modernization and for authorizing a new generation of nuclear carriers since the fall of the Soviet Union, though while visiting Hankuk University in South Korea in March 2012 he has declared that the USA has more nuclear weapons than it needs.

Barack Obama has not addressed the issue of downsizing operationally non-deployed nuclear arsenal, though he has promised to do so: in 2016 operationally non-deployed nuclear U.S. SOA arsenal constituted 63% of the overall American nuclear SOA (464 vs 741).

He has refused to reduce combat readiness of the U.S. nuclear arms – he has actually rejected an option of “de-alerting” nuclear missiles ready to fire on short notice.

He has not cancelled the “launch-on-warning” concept which lowers down the threshold of using of nuclear weapons.

For more than 70 years the U.S. military and political leadership cannot step back from the destabilizing strategic paradigm of “mutual assured destruction” or MAD, developed during the first phase of the Cold War. A modified formula, which was suggested by one of the arms control advisors to President Barack Obama as “mutual assured security” or MAS had no central tenet: a guarantee of massive non-use of conventional forces and nuclear weapons in a first strike. The current U.S. Administration also rejected the strategy of “minimum nuclear deterrence” posture and intends to maintain the “counterforce nuclear capabilities” to a level that would not allow Russia and China to deliver a second retaliatory strike on the USA.

Though the current U.S. Administration is discussing the possibility of giving up the concept of a first nuclear strike, it still refuses to take upon itself together with Russia a mutual commitment not to use nuclear weapons in a first strike or not to use it at all. All U.S. Administrations have declined to accept several Soviet and Russian initiatives on that issue. At the official level, the matter between Moscow and Washington is not being discussed so far, though the initial steps in this direction has been made by the USSR 34 years ago – in 1982. An expert answer to the related leakage released by the newspaper “Washington Post” on July 10, 2016, has been given by the newspaper “Red Star” on July 18 this year in an article “Obama’s Hidden Motives.” After that date three key secretaries from his Administration – Secretary of State, of Defense and Energy – have declined to accept such a simple notion. Their views have been backed by the head of the U.S. Strategic Command.

It must also be borne in mind that NATO political and military circles are widely discussing the possibility of starting a limited nuclear war in the framework of the concept of “escalation of de-escalation” in order to “de-escalate” regional armed conflicts that can erupt with the use of conventional weapons. The possibility of the outbreak of hostilities with the use of miniature nuclear warheads or warheads with low yield is also debated, and Washington does not conceal its intentions to use a new air dropped bomb B-61-12 with its minimum nuclear yield 0.3 kiloton (its general mission will be discussed later). It should also be noted that high-ranking civilian government officials in the NATO countries who can influence the decision-making process in the military nuclear domain are frequently invited to take part in the computerized nuclear war-gaming.

Some high-ranking NATO officials have publicly complained that before the Alliance held separate military exercises with the use of conventional and nuclear weapons, but has never tested the transformation of the first type of exercises in the second ones. Currently such transformed drills are being conducted, because the recommendation of the transformation of NATO military exercises with the use of conventional weapons into nuclear arms exercises became the focus of attention within the transatlantic Alliance.

Pentagon is working to integrate conventional and nuclear strategies more effectively to prepare for adversaries seeking to exploit low-end conflict below the threshold of nuclear or conventional war. Addressing the U.S. Strategic Command’s 2016 nuclear deterrence symposium on July 27, 2016, Brian McKeon, acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, has admitted that the outgoing Administration is drafting “a new strategy” which will “synchronize nuclear and conventional thinking to maximize deterrence through all phases of conflict”. This, he said quite frankly, includes preparing “for limited use of nuclear weapons”. General Curtis Scaparotti, head of U.S. European Command, further elaborated that the USA and NATO forces “are hoping to strike a balance between deterrence and escalation, and escalation and provocation”.

The new task has been formulated: “Deeper integration between conventional and nuclear planning and operations is essential to ensure that U.S. nuclear weapons can continue to effectively fulfill their fundamental deterrence role in the 21st century.”

The election platform of the Republican Party of the United States entitled “America Resurgent”, prepared for the current U.S. presidential campaign provides for further modernization of its nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, without making a distinction between strategic and tactical nuclear arms.

Today, the U.S. nuclear forces have a powerful arsenal of strategic nuclear offensive arms (SOA) and tactical nuclear weapons (TNW), numbering 4571 nuclear warheads, including 1,481 warheads accounted for “operationally deployed” strategic nuclear warheads. In accordance with the provisions of the Russian-American START-3 Treaty also known as the New START, signed in April 2010, by the time of its full implementation (2021), the Pentagon may remain considerable nuclear arsenal up to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and a combination of totally 800 “operationally deployed” and “operationally non-deployed” launchers.

In the next 15 years, the U.S. military and political leadership intends to make a radical modernization of its strategic offensive arms. It means that a new heavy strategic bomber tentatively named as B-21 “Raider” or B-3 will be commissioned in 2025 (the USA will produce up to 100 of them), a new intercontinental ballistic missile preliminary called “GBSD” – from 2029 (the overall production is expected to hammer out 400 such ICBMs), as well as a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine “SSBN-X” called “Columbia”- from 2031 (totally 12 submarines will be built, each of them will be equipped by 16 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles). New SSBNs “Columbia” will stay in service till 2080.

In sum, the redrawing of the traditional U.S. strategic nuclear triad will allow the USA to have by the middle of this century 692 brand new SOA delivery vehicles. This does not include long-range hundreds of sea-based and up to 1.000 air-launched cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads.

As a result of all these measures the USA will increase the range and speed of flight of land-based and sea-based ICBMs and SLBMs, as well as improve their guidance system. Some of the submarines with ballistic missiles (SSBNs) will be further converted into the platforms capable to carry sea-based cruise missiles equipped with conventional warheads (SSGN), which will increase their number from the current four converted Ohio-class submarines. On each of them, instead of housing Trident-2 (D-5) ballistic missiles, there are 154 high-precision long-range Tomahawk-class cruise missiles which could be used to deliver a first non-nuclear strike.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

In 2020, or even earlier in the United States will complete the modernization of tactical nuclear weapons: they will start mass production of new nuclear bombs of increased accuracy B-61-12, which will replace the four types of bombs of this class developed earlier. The Pentagon no longer plans to carry out new tests for such bomb, as all three of its tests (the final third test was conducted October 20, 2015 in Nevada) have shown that this bomb could be placed on the production line without additional testing. The total number of new bombs can reach up to 480-930 pieces. This amount will enable the Pentagon to fully replace all U.S. nuclear bombs of these types, which have been stored by the USA in Europe from the 1950s, and up to now are still located in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and in the Asian part of Turkey.

Being flight-adjustable via a specifically designed tail-fin and guide by a global navigational positioning system bomb B-61-12 will be able to perform both tactical and strategic missions, as it will be delivered by heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A and in the future by a new heavy strategic bomber B-3. Considering its increased accuracy and the maximum charge of its nuclear warhead (50 kilotons), it can be referred to as the weapon of a first nuclear strike and designed to destroy intercontinental land-based missiles in their silos and hardened underground command and control centers of the Russian Federation.

In collaboration with the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, NNSA conducted successful surveillance flight tests using joint test assemblies (JTA) of the B-61-7 and B-61-11 earlier October 2016. Analysis and flight recorder data from the tests indicate that both were successful.

JTAs are mock weapons containing sensors and instrumentation that allow scientists and engineers from national laboratories to assess their performance. The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions. Such testing is part of the qualification process of current alterations and life extension programs for weapon systems. NNSA scientists and engineers use data from these tests in computer simulations developed by Sandia National Laboratories to evaluate the weapon systems’ reliability and to verify that they are functioning as designed.

“The B-61 is a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent,” said Brigade General Michael Lutton, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”

These tests mean that the USA would like to stop decommissioning of B-61 bombs family it has already promised.

A new U.S. multipurpose Joint Strike Fighter F-35, two versions of which will be able to deliver nuclear bombs B-61-12 have also been developed. There are the land-based F-35A and the sea-based F-35C (on aircraft carriers) which will stay in service until 2070-2075, with some of them are to be sold to six European countries

The basic feature of the U.S. nuclear forces stationed in Europe, is that they are considered in the Pentagon and the State Department as “forward-based assets” with respect to the territory of the Russian Federation.

The USA would like to expand vast cooperation in the nuclear field with its allies. 27 NATO nations are participating in the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, except France. Washington who has signed special “nuclear sharing agreements” with the group of 15 non-nuclear NATO member states, intends to increase their list. The recent NATO Summit in Warsaw has recorded the position of the enlarging the number of the participants in the “nuclear sharing agreements” with the United States.

Eight countries (the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom) are involved in “active nuclear missions” comprised of regular air patrols, radar data exchange, aircraft refueling and maintaining of communication between the NATO aircraft capable to carry nuclear weapons. The Pentagon also plans to continue engaging the Allied pilots in TNW drop testing during special Air Force exercises called “Steadfast Noon” and “SNOWCAT”.

Under the pretext of responding to the Ukrainian crisis, initiated by the United States and supported by all other member states of the NATO, the Pentagon increased the number of its nuclear bombs in a number of European countries, as well as the number of flights of its heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A capable to carry strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in the airspace of Western and Eastern Europe, as well as off the coast of northern Russia’s coastline in the Arctic region.

If earlier, the United States claimed that their nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and in the Asian part of Turkey, have been under “the dual subordination", that is under the control of the USA and countries where they have been deployed, nowadays it admits they are entirely controlled by the Pentagon and the U.S. President as the Supreme Commander of the U.S. Armed Forces. It should be recalled that while offering to Russia an idea to start negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons’ reductions, President Barack Obama has excluded from future negotiations Turkey, and spelled out no desire to pull back the U.S. TNW from Europe to equalize the starting negotiating positions of the two sides.

All these circumstances actually lower down the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons by Washington, including those fielded on the European continent.

The USA intends to continue to pursue its regional and global military policy on the basis of potential strategic and tactical nuclear weapons employment in the first preventive and pre-emptive nuclear strikes, guided by the nuclear strategy of “unconditional offensive nuclear deterrence”, which has actually remained unchanged since 1945 – from the moment of the use of the American nuclear weapons against two peaceful Japanese cities.

The USA will keep unchanged its nuclear strategy till the end of 21st century.

It must also be borne in mind that NATO political and military circles are widely discussing the possibility of starting a limited nuclear war in the framework of the concept of “escalation of de-escalation” in order to “de-escalate” regional armed conflicts that can erupt with the use of conventional weapons. The possibility of the outbreak of hostilities with the use of miniature nuclear warheads or warheads with low yield is also debated, and Washington does not conceal its intentions to use a new air dropped bomb B-61-12 with its minimum nuclear yield 0.3 kiloton (its general mission will be discussed later). It should also be noted that high-ranking civilian government officials in the NATO countries who can influence the decision-making process in the military nuclear domain are frequently invited to take part in the computerized nuclear war-gaming.

Such actions create additional risks to Russia that Moscow cannot neglect.

Washington’s reliance on such strategic doctrine will remain, at least until the end of this century. The U.S. military and political leadership is not going to change a special brunch of its nuclear strategy called “extended nuclear deterrence”, which presupposes unfolding the U.S. nuclear umbrella over the territory of all member states of NATO, as well as countries non-members of the Alliance - totally over 33 countries all over the world.

Ballistic Missile Defense

The U.S. missile defense system in Europe has already reached the level of initial operational capability. Its assets are also developed in Japan, and in 2017 in South Korea. Universal vertical launchers Mk-41 missile system allows covertly, after changing the relevant programs can house very quickly offensive “Tomahawk”-type cruise missiles. The number of such missiles at the Russian borders may number from 150 to 300 units with a range of up to 2,400 kilometers. Their flying time to the western borders of Russia is less than 10 minutes.

It should be borne in mind that the Pentagon already has in service 33 Aegis-capable warships (16 ships in the Atlantic and 17 ships in the Pacific) with the total number about 400 plus of interceptor missiles, and in 2041 it will have 84 such ships or even 96 – that is 1/3 of the entire U.S. Navy by that time. Aegis-capable vessels of the USN and its NATO allies constantly sail in the Barents, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas. The Pentagon has put on combat duty its missile defense system in Deveselu (Romania), and began to build a similar BMD complex in Redzikowo (Poland).

December 23rd, 2016, Barack Obama signed a decree on the allocation of appropriations for the research and deployment of space-based missile defense assets, which will lead to a new arms race in BMDS which will complement the ongoing nuclear arms race.

Proponents of the expanded deployment of missile defenses all over the world do not realize that if the 20th century went down in history as the century of the “nuclear arms race” when nuclear weapons were created and two nuclear bombs were used by the USA against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the 21st century can become the century of a “BMD arms race” embracing the entire planet. At present, about 15 countries in the world have missile defenses, but in the first half of the century over 30 countries will have them. By 2025-2050 or even earlier, entire systems of ground-based, sea-based, air-based and, possibly, space-based missile defenses may emerge. This will inevitably push many countries towards creating means of overcoming these systems with the help of ballistic missiles. It will be a vicious circle.

But there is another way of resolving the BMD impasse: e.g. to sign a new multilateral ABM Treaty that could limit the number of interceptors by a certain highest (maximum ceiling) and their area of deployment, e.g. limit the number warships sailing in the World Oceans very close to the opposite sides. But, naturally, for successfully drafting such a treaty the overall improvement of the international climate is needed and a restoration of real detente on the globe, especially between nuclear-weapon states and BMDS-possessor states.

Conventional Forces

As acknowledged by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the non-nuclear military activity of the transatlantic alliance has increased by five times.

NATO countries have activated airborne intelligence activities along the perimeter of the territory of Russia, involving RC-135 and AWACS aircraft. For 10 years, the total number of flights of reconnaissance aircraft near Russian border has increased almost 3 times, and in the south-west of Russia – 8 times. For comparison, in the last 90-ies the number of their flights was 107, in the 2000s - 298, and in 2016 have already reached 852. This forced Russia to increase the number of sorties of fighter aircraft in order to prevent violations of Russian airspace in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Arctic by 61 percent.

The overall intensity of maritime reconnaissance of NATO Navies near Russian territorial waters has increased by one and a half times.

The transatlantic Alliance has increased its intensity military exercises twice as much, most of which have anti-Russian bearing. For example, in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom to designate the enemy at the site "Salisbury Plain" began to use Russian-made tanks and military uniforms of the Russian army. Last time such a training method forces applied to Nazi Germany during World War II.

The Eastern and Southern European countries have set up 8 new U.S. and NATO military bases, 6 of their command and staff structures, one Navy control center. In the European zone the NATO headquarters intends to strengthen military aircraft, anti-submarine, reconnaissance and other activities with the use of heavy weaponry, in which this military union has practiced offensive operations against Russia and Belarus. Such actions will involve 16 member states of the Alliance - a kind of new-found "Entente Cordial" of the present–day time. Early last century the same military union involving 14 countries has already existed. Its end is well known.

In 2016 NATO leaders decided to deploy four reinforced battalion tactical groups in the three Baltic states and Poland, on the territory of several countries in Eastern Europe to place and maintain armored brigade of US ground troops.

Instead of uniting efforts against the common evils of the world - terrorism, during Barack Obama’s presidency NATO has declared Russia the main threat and continued to increase its military potential at the Russian borders. Under this pretext, the overall military budget of NATO countries has been increased by US $ 26 billion, which totally amounted to US $ 918 billion.

Washington and 14 other NATO member countries will continue to carry out a destabilizing Air Force operation labeled as “Baltic Air Policing” conducted in the sky of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Its peculiarity is that four types of DCA or “dual-capable aircraft” by three NATO nuclear weapon member-states –  France, the United Kingdom and the USA – are actively used making lift offs and landings at three military airfields in Lithuania (Zokniai Air Force Base/AFB), Latvia (Lielvarde AFB) and Estonia (Ǻmari AFB). They are located very close to the Russian and Belarusian territory. An important factor is that this operation is carried out day-in-day-out, and 365/366 days per annum.

Europe is once again, as it has witnessed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after the famous NATO “double-track” decision on deployment of “Pershing” and “Tomahawk” missiles stamped in December 1979, becomes a place of excessive concentration of the combined armed forces of the USA and its NATO allies, classified as the forward-based high-tech war-fighting capabilities.

A key feature of the current U.S. nuclear forces, as well as nuclear weapons of the United Kingdom and France, is that since May 2012 at its Summit in Chicago NATO has agreed to arrange a new operational and strategic “Chicago triad” - a permanent “mix” of strategic and tactical nuclear arms, missile defense elements of the U.S. and NATO global ballistic missile defense (BMD), as well as their general purpose forces (conventional weapons). This superstructure is regarded in NATO as ‘forward-based forces’.

The issue of switched off transponders on board of combat aircraft over the Baltic Sea has not been resolved yet: NATO Air Forces have not switched then on, while Russia is still operating its combat airplanes with such gimmicks to be be switched on.

According to Pentagon officials at the end of the last year the Obama Administration announced its readiness to deploy in Europe "Volcano M-136" system, which is used in the U.S. military since 1995 for quick dispersion of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines by spreading thgem with the help of specially equipped helicopters, as well as wheeled and tracked vehicles.

In accordance with the concept of this system such types of mines are kept in special multi-tube boxes, which are mounted on board of the said vehicles: 960 minutes on one helicopter and 160 minutes on a single vehicle, and then scattered in different directions in the course of their movement. They can be dispersed in dozens of seconds and help to create in a rather short period of time minefields on a large area that can cover key military facilities, troop concentrations and military equipment to block the approaches to them by potential adversary.

The decision issued by the Pentagon during Barack Obama’s presidency to bring to this densely populated region of the world a specially designed “mine-disperse system” is intended to maintain permanent military-political tensions in this densely-populated region.

So, the 44th President of the United States, representing the interests of the Democratic Party, has been clearly determined to leave the new owner of the White House Donald Trump extremely dangerous “military legacy” in the form of additional weapons and expansion of large-scale military activity in virtually all regions of the world, including in Europe. Figuratively speaking, he has implanted too many “time bombs.”

Practical suggestions

In connection with the problem of uncontrolled deployment of the U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe and missile defense system on the global scale it is necessary to point out the danger of upsetting the delicate balance between strategic offensive nuclear arms and strategic defensive anti-missile weapons, when the latter may exceed the first category of armaments several times. Guided by the strategy of a first massive nuclear or first massive non-nuclear strike, the USA could deliver an unexpected blow to Russia and its allies and protect itself by its multilayered and geographically widely dispersed missile defense system.

On the other hand, Moscow remembers the maxim which has been incorporated in official documents of the past: “Nuclear war cannot be unleashed, because it will produce no winners”.  At the end of October 2016 while addressing the Valdai Discussion Club participants in Sochi Russian President has said that Russia will responsibly behave according to its nuclear status, by believing that rattling by nuclear arms will be the nastiest act. He also underscored that the use of nuclear weapons will be the end of the entire civilization. Vladimir Putin has once again reiterated that Russia is not going to attack anyone.

It is hoped that by joining the office of President, Donald Trump will be able to reduce the degree of military tension, which, without any justification and unilaterally created the United States and its closest allies in the transatlantic Alliance. The president-elect has promised to cancel 70 percent of Barack Obama's decrees, which do not meet the interests of the United States, including those related to the military-political sphere.

A reasonable step. NATO should not stockpile Europe with a huge cache of arms reminding Mont Blanc, and instead must start the mechanism of the real “détente” in the form of a qualitatively new constructive and effective model. Possibly called détente 2.0.

Taking into account these circumstances, it is extremely important to start the process of limiting military activity of NATO member countries with nine simple steps that do not require significant financial investments.

For example, to reach an agreement between the states-members of the Western military Alliance and Russia:

(1)  an agreement on the mutual non-use of nuclear weapons in a first strike, and as an intermediate step toward this goal – to formulate a mutually acceptable strategy of “defensive nuclear deterrent that threatens no one”;

(2) an accord on complete withdrawal of the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from the European continent and the Asian part of Turkey;

(3) initiate a multilateral BMDS limitation accord limiting the quantity of BMDS interceptors by a certain limit and their global deployment by proposing “BMDS-free-zones”; the USA and Romania should sign an agreement on freezing of the operational use of the U.S. missile defense complex in Romania and full withdrawal of all BMD interceptors, mounted on it, to the territory of the United States; the USA and Poland have to draft an accord on freezing of construction of a similar BMD complex in Poland for an indefinite period of time; a new multilateral ABM Treaty on limiting the number of BMD interceptors and their geographical deployments should be also elaborated; BMD THAAD batteries to be fielded in South Korea in 2017 should not be installed at all, because they are linked with the U.S. nuclear, BMDS and conventional arms, the “Start” button will be in the hands of the USA, but not in the hands of Seoul, and this fact will aggravate the situation in the APR;

(4) NATO must return all its conventional forces deployed in Eastern and Southern Europe after April 1st, 2014 to their original positions;

(5) NATO must cancel the “Baltic Air Policing” operation in three Baltic nations near the Russian borders; The European North should be proclaimed as a Zone of Peace and Stability, free from military forces of non-regional nations.

(6) the USA and NATO should cancel the policy to deploy the space-based weapons in outer space;

(7) if all these proposals are not accepted by Washington and NATO as a whole, Russia will not extend for extra 5 years the validity of the current New START known in Russian as START-3 agreement. Moscow will not sign START-4 accord, believing that the time has come to invite to SOA arms control talks the United Kingdom and France as key U.S. military Allies having with Washington mutual commitments in the framework of offensive nuclear deterrence;

(8) finally, there is a need to hold in Athens, Belgrade or in Geneva a qualitatively new Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe with the participation of all European states, as well as the United States and Canada, which would put an end to unnecessary and dangerous military confrontation on the continent, initiated by the leading countries of the Alliance, led by USA.

(9) after the inauguration of a new U.S. President the leaders of the Russian Federation and the USA should arrange a special arms control Summit to map out a scheme to reduce excessive arms and a large-scale military activity, especially near the door step of each other.

The current U.S. Administration has to consider these steps seriously, because the “Doomsday” clock is still ticking. Nowadays it shows 23:57, [1]where Armageddon hour is 24.00. That is three minutes to the midnight. Too alarming to sit idle, and not to react.

The current unstable and even fragile military and political situation in the world requires active actions aimed at its radical and effective amelioration.


[1]  From January 26, 2017 the “Doomsday” clock moved to 23:57.30.