Just in Case… Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu Agree on Rapid Deployment of Kalibr Missiles Aimed at Europe
Last Saturday, President Putin invited Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defense Minister Shoigu to the Kremlin. At the meeting, they made a decision in principle to not disturb the Americans with Russian initiatives on arms limitation and to be ready for rapid deployment of the Kalibr missiles on the ground in the European part of Russia, as well as hypersonic intermediate and short-range weapons. This is all being done in response to the announced withdrawal of the United States from the INF Treaty. The meeting began with detailed reports by the two ministers to the president of Russia.
Vladimir Putin: «Please, I will ask the Foreign Minister, Sergey Viktorovich, to describe the situation that is currently developing with the INF Treaty and report in general on the so-called „disarmament dossier“. What is going on in the area of offensive arms limitation?»
Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister: «Dear Mr. Putin, under the INF Treaty, our American colleagues, and the treaty, as you know, has been in effect since 1988. According to our data, the United States began to violate this indefinite contract in 1999 when they started to test unmanned aerial combat vehicles, which have the same characteristics as land-based cruise missiles. In 2014, they began to deploy the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System in positional anti-missile defense regions in Europe. Without any modifications, they're absolutely capable of launching Tomahawk medium-range attack missiles».
— And this is a direct violation of the treaty?
— This is a direct violation of the treaty. Such launchers have already been deployed in Romania, and they're preparing to deploy them in Poland, as well as in Japan.
As well as in Japan. Then, Sergey Lavrov mentioned the start of the production in the United States of low-power nuclear weapons for medium-range missiles in the US. In addition to the USA's withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Lavrov listed four more treaties which America disregarded and is disregarding. The US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002 when we proposed creating a joint missile defense with the US and they refused. And in 2013, they announced that the dialogue on missile defense had been terminated. The US also is also disregarding the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Pentagon is practicing the usage of atomic munitions use with five NATO countries in Europe. The US simply refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, although Barack Obama promised to do it even before he won the presidential election. He didn't do it. Neither did Trump.
Finally, the START Treaty is under threat, too, because the US is excluding 56 submarine launchers for launching Trident intercontinental missiles and 41 heavy bombers in addition to them from the treaty because they claim that they're re-equipping them all with conventional munitions. This is impossible to verify. They propose to keep their word without any inspections.
Vladimir Putin: «Sergei Kuzhugetovich, how does the Ministry of Defense assess the current situation? And what suggestions do you have in this regard?»
Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Defense: «It’s obvious to us that, in addition to the open research being done on the production of intermediate and short-range missiles, this isn't the first time that we see the real embodiment of all these violations of the treaty provisions. Simply put, the United States has begun to manufacture those missiles. In connection with this, we have suggestions as to retaliatory measures which consist of the following: Firstly, we suggest that research and development work on the re-deployment or use of sea-based launchers for the land-based version of the Kalibr missiles be started within the coming months. Secondly, we suggest the research and development, which will turn into experimental designing, to create ground-based hypersonic intermediate and short-range ballistic missiles systems. We ask you to support our proposal».
So, Shoigu voiced two concrete suggestions concerning the Kalibr and hypersonic weapons, in which Russia is the world leader. Putin agreed, added his ideas, and formulated Russia's final position.
Vladimir Putin: “We'll conduct the following. It'll be a tit-for-tat response. Our American partners have announced that they're suspending their participation in the treaty, so we'll suspend ours. They've announced that they're engaged in R&D and experimental development, so we'll do the same. I agree with the proposals by the Ministry of Defense to start working on creating a land-based version of the Kalibr missiles and open a new area of work — the creation of a hypersonic land-based intermediate-range missile.”
But here, Putin made a very important reservation.
Vladimir Putin: «At the same time, I want to draw your attention to the fact that we shouldn't and won't be dragged into an arms race which is costly for us».
This is a matter of principle for the president. Putin certainly doesn't want to make the Soviet mistake again. Therefore, he asked Shoigu to do it within the existing budget, simply by changing its internal proportions.
Vladimir Putin: Without increasing the Defense Ministry's budget.
Sergei Shoigu: Yes.
— Great. In this regard, I have another request for you. We regularly hold meetings in Sochi on the execution of state defense procurement. I propose to change the format of our work, starting this year. I'd like to see how the work on the deployment of our new systems is going. They're the Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missile, the Peresvet combat laser weapon, which has also been delivered to the army, and the Avangard, whose final tests have been completed and is already being manufactured by the plants. I want to see how the work on the production of the Sarmat and its preparation for combat missions is going. A few days ago, you reported about the completion of the key test phase of the underwater, unmanned, multi-purpose strategic-range military weapon, the Poseidon. I should see how the work is going in this area.
If Putin used to gather military and production workers at the conference table in Sochi, then this year the president will visit the military at their places of service and inspect the defense enterprises. Putin asked to report on our counter-measures in case someone places weapons in space. Since the US's withdrawal from the INF Treaty and their unwillingness to conduct even some negotiations on disarmament is a fact, Putin instructed the invited ministers as follows.
Vladimir Putin: «All of our proposals in this area, as before, will remain in force. We're open to negotiation. I'm asking both ministries to not initiate any negotiations on this issue. We’ll wait until our partners are ready to conduct an equal and meaningful dialogue with us on the issue which is crucial for us, our partners, and the entire world».
And the last but not least, we don't initiate anything.
Vladimir Putin: «We presume that Russia won't deploy, if such weapons appear, intermediate and short-range weapons, neither in Europe nor other parts of the world until similar weapons made by the Americans appear in the respective regions of the world».