Nuclear Arms Race Redux

Is the world in the grip of a new arms race?

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Milforum's Bouncer

Vladimir Putin has sparked fears of a new arms race between Russia and the United States by deploying a nuclear ballistic strike force system that officials made clear could penetrate U.S. anti-missile defenses.

On Christmas Eve, the Russian army activated a new fleet of Topol-M missiles that can fit a nuclear warhead and travel 6,000 miles, changing trajectory to foil any enemy interception device.

The accompanying hawkish rhetoric of the Russian military commanders and the frenetic response of the U.S. navy have stoked concern that the former Cold War adversaries have quietly resumed the arms race.

General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Russian missile forces, has mobilized a new battalion for the Topol-M missiles, which have a capacity for a one megaton impact — 75 times the power of the 1945 Hiroshima bomb.

General Solovtsov, a critic of U.S. anti-missile defense technology, said the Topol-M missile “is capable of piercing any missile defense system” and is immune to electromagnetic blasts used by current U.S. anti-missile systems.

While Russia disbanded two missile divisions last year, it has now formed more than 20 new units — in the fastest increase of nuclear spending since the run-up to the Cuban missile crisis.

Last month, the U.S. navy carried out its most ambitious and successful test of an anti-missile interceptor, which can be launched from an Aegis class cruiser in the Pacific Ocean. A warhead from an incoming rocket was destroyed 100 miles above sea level — the first time an anti-missile defense has succeeded, in tests, when launched from a ship.

Duncan Lamont, a British defense analyst and editor of Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, said the new Topol missiles could evade the “ballistic missile defenses currently being fielded in Alaska and California”.

The roll-out of the Topol-M and the hawkish accompanying language mark the fastest expansion of nuclear missiles since the SS-18 and Pershing II technologies were rolled out a generation ago.

Since the last U.S.-Russia arms control treaty was signed in 1993 in Moscow, Russia has struggled to fund technology to replace its ageing defense system. The budget dried up as the Russian economy suffered.

But now the economy is flush with new oil wealth, the nuclear missile program has been revived and was last month allocated a 1 billion pound budget increase from the Kremlin. This has boosted Putin’s popularity.

Japan, growing anxious about a nuclear missile strike from North Korea, signed up to the American missile defense program last week and allocated 14 million pounds for joint research.

The Ukrainian government, elected last year in a part-protest against Moscow’s influence, has asked to come back under the former Soviet military umbrella and be protected by the Topol-M stationed in the Volga river.

In September, Russia successfully tested a Bulava missile, a submarine-launched equivalent of the Topol-M. Launched from the White Sea, it hit its target 30 minutes later on Kamchatka, in the opposite, Far Eastern side of Russia.

The escalation in missile defense will pose difficult questions for Tony Blair, the prime minister, who must soon decide whether to renew Britain’s trident nuclear deterrent. The case for not doing so is largely based on the pacification of post-Soviet Russia.

Relations with Putin have been increasingly strained, as western leaders have criticized his heavy-handed style, his imprisonment of political opponents and slow pace towards democratizing the country.

The European Union has condemned Putin’s decision to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, whose new president last month spoke of his desire to “wipe Israel off the map”. Iran says it wants to buy Russian nuclear energy next.

Russia takes over the year-long G8 presidency from Britain in January. Putin has made his theme security of energy supply — which marries concern over Iraq with the Kremlin’s concerns about its control of Caspian oil reserves.
What say you my learned colleagues and brash young members of the forum, are we on the threshold of a new higher stakes arms race? At this point from all that I have read in the past three months I would have to say that I think we have already started down the path and it is no longer a question but a statement of fact.
Last edited:
Wow, that's news to me. Why can't the Russians just freaking be peaceful for once in our lifetimes.

Christ, we don't even have hardly any competing interests anymore and they're trying to out-nuke us? How about you spend that money trying to improve your economy instead of trying to destroy the world.
With NATO closing in on Russia allowing new members to join the organization, Russia will rely more on their nuclear capabilities. We will probably see more of this in the coming years if Russia feel their security situation unacceptable.
I must have missed the poll. I think this is stupid and bad saber rattling but it isn't the start of a new arms race. The US missile shield was never meant to ward off a full scale nuclear attack from Russia. You don't have to use crazy-ass missile technology against our missile shield, just shoot 21 missiles at it. The shield is really only supposed to protect against 20 missiles max, the idea being that an idiot like Kim Jong Ill or the former Saddam can't just make a nuke or two and threaten us with it.

Secondly it's supposed to max out around China's ICBM yeild which is estimated at 20 (although disputed). The theory being that if we get all China's boomer subs and nuclear-armed aircraft the shield would just be able to stop almost any ICBMs launched from the motherland.

But the shield was NEVER intended to stop a Russian attack, they've just got too many nukes for that to ever be feasable.

So the end result isn't an arms buildup that America is going to say "Well we'll develop better anti-missile technology to beat you!" since Russia can already nuke us out of existance even with the missile shield operating at its theoretical best on paper.
Last edited:
MADD is stil a fact of life. If Russia is stupid enough to start saber rattling again, then they are stupider than I thought.

MADD means that not only would we fall to an attack by Russia, it also means that the rest of the world would also fall.



I just think it is another powergame by Putin. He wants and needs to be taken serious. Unfortunatly he has an army with rusted tank, malfunctioning choppers and demotivated personnel. These missiles are probably his only claim to actor on the international scene. But I don't think it is the start of another arms race..... He has more pressing things like getting payments from Gazprom or killing scores of children when freeing them from terrorists.
Well you say that he has to deal with keeping children safe and fighting terrorists but look at what he is doing! Do you really thing it's the chechnian terrorists that are going "oh crap, now they can defeat the US missile barrier and they've added all these new nuckes... we have to surrender!"


Russia could nuke Chechnia so many times it would make an entirely new sea. If you've already got thousands of nukes, adding more to your arsenal isn't to fight terrorism.
I know that nuking them would not help. But it's politics! If he flexes his muscles a bit, standing up to the US, reliving old times when people took the USSR serious. IF the outside world reckons he is "the man" he can do more things internally. People tend to bother less with you if you are the big kid on the block.
Russia and Communist China. Russia still wants to be the big boy in the block even though they aren't any more. And Communist China is sure as hell trying to be the big boy of the block.
I think there is an arms race. But one, in which there is only a single runner. This is because the other powers who want to run don't have the resources to.
Russia is more than capable economically of financing a renewed arms race. The revenue from oil and gas has the oligarchs in charge flush with money to spend buying cruise missiles, biotech, English football teams... your view of them seems to have stalled on the bleak winter of 1991.

In addition if you have followed some of the news posts I have put up from Moscow News Putin has been signing arms deals left and right all over Asia and they now have outplaced US arms sales in this region. That translates into more money for R&D which, in my mind given the true nature of Russo-American relations, is the very definition of an arms race.
I did not know all that. But do the Russians really have enough money to build systems that can counters to or equivalents of the American NMD, TMD and similar systems?
Its NOT a "scenario" Sandy, its reality. Read about all the arms deals of late, Russia's very fat oil fed economy and the Russian military budget for next year and beyond...

I hate to sound like an advertisement but I have already put a lot of this up in the news forums. Russia is embarking on an escalation of its military might unseen for thirty years. We ignore it at our own peril.

Thus saith Chicken Little.
We was in the collective sense of all the peoples of Earth. There can be no winner in a nuclear war and arms races have a funny tendency to push governments into nasty battles of money and words which are too close to blows for comfort... the cold war anyone?

Former presidential aide Andrei Illarionov comments on Putin’s key-note speech delivered by the president on May 10 to Russia’s Federal Assembly. Putin’s address shows that Russia has chosen a course towards militarization and sends out a clear signal to restore Soviet-era values and prepare for confrontation with the West.

Putin’s address was full of military rhetoric, Andrei Illarionov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “The address contains quite undisguised hints about who now poses the main threat to Russia... We cannot but notice that the way the tasks have been formulated is unprofessional from the military point of view,” he said commenting on the president’s instruction to ensure that Russia should be capable of waging several wars at a time. It would be impossible even for the U.S. to wage several wars at a time, he added.

“This address is not for the world outside Russia, this address is for ourselves, for our own country. The address makes the militarization of life inside the country possible, necessary, substantiated and justified. And this is probably the main goal for the sake of which the statement was made,” Illarionov said.

Illarionov expressed doubt about Putin’s statement that Russia’s defense expenditure is comparable or even lower than that of other nuclear states. The expert said the purchasing power of the Russian ruble as compared to hard currencies had not been taken into account when making calculations. “Russia’s defense expenditure in 2005 amounted to slightly more than 3% of GDP, whereas in Great Britain the figure was 2.77% and 2.5% of GDP in France. Therefore, the percentage share of Russia’s defense expenditure in GDP exceeds the expenditure of Britain or France. It is not lower, as was said in the presidential address.”

“If we compare Russia’s defense budget with that of the USA, it is true that in absolute figures, taking into account the exchange rates, Russia’s military expenditure is 25 times lower than that of the USA. This only proves that the figures which we are using are absolutely the same figures that were used by the aides who were preparing these figures for the address,” Illarionov went on to say. At the same time, he added that “it would be incorrect to compare GDP and military budgets on the basis of exchange rates”.

“All comparable figures should be given not on the basis of exchange rates but on the basis of the so-called purchasing power parity. The thing is that in various countries different quantities of goods of the same consumer quality, so to speak, can be purchased for the same amount of money exchanged at a bank or a currency exchange bureau,” he went on to say. “Calculations made this way will show that Russia’s defense expenditure in 2005, according to the lowest purchasing power parity figures, amounted to approximately 45bn dollars expressed in prices as at 2002. In France, also in 2005, military expenditure amounted to 36bn dollars, also calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity expressed in prices as at 2002, which is about 20 per cent lower than in the Russian Federation. In Great Britain the figure was about 52bn dollars, expressed in the same units, which is about 15 per cent more than in Russia,” Illarionov said. Taking into account that Russia’s GDP is lower than that in France and Great Britain, it turns out that its defense expenditure is comparable to that of the above two countries. Also, Russia’s defense expenditure per capita exceeds that of France and Great Britain by almost 50 per cent, the former presidential aide said.

Illarionov said the method of calculating Russia’s defence expenditure used by the president’s aides to prepare his state-of-the-nation address did not reflect the true state of affairs. “If they have done this to distort the picture on purpose, this is either stupidity or betrayal because, in my opinion, to provide false information to a state leader is a crime,” he said.

According to Illarionov, Putin’s concern over the demographic situation was obviously prompted by the need to have enough men for the armed forces. “It seems that the Defense Ministry is the only institution that understands why it is necessary to solve the demographic problem in Russia,” he said in response to Putin’s remark that at the Defense Ministry they understand quite well the importance of such notions as love, women and children.

Illarionov said average life expectancy has been declining in Russia for the past three years. “We know for sure that this problem cannot be solved by the militaristic methods which our authorities are going to employ. Using these methods can only exacerbate the problem.” No increase in child benefits can solve the problem, he added.

The former presidential aide drew a parallel between the current state of relations between Russia and the West and the situation that took shape after World War II, when the Cold War era began. He said Putin’s current foreign policy statement very much resembled Stalin’s statements before and after Winston Churchill’s speech in Fulton in 1946. The West then interpreted Stalin’s statements as a signal that Russia had begun preparations for another war. According to Illarionov, history repeats itself now that Putin has made a foreign policy statement which can be viewed as an unfriendly response to U.S. Vice-President Richard Cheney’s speech in Vilnius and which can put Russia in opposition to the West.

“What do we see, regrettably, in today’s address? It says that we should not repeat mistakes which we made during the Cold War. In other words, the phrase ’Cold War’ is now used as a starting point for a comparison,” he said. At the same time, Illarionov denied that Cheney’s speech in Vilnius was a challenge to Russia designed to bring the relations between the two countries back to the times of cold war. He quoted the part of the speech where Cheney praised Russia as a great world power which was moving towards democracy, and offered cooperation in fighting common threats.

Illarionov said this was the first address 40 per cent of which was devoted to the armed forces and ways to strengthen them. “Indeed, there has never been an address like this before. In this respect, we are returning to another epoch in which we had lived for more than one decade,” he said.

The ongoing global conflict is not the conflict between the Christian and Islamic civilizations but between the countries which view human life and human rights as the main values and the countries which believe in the supremacy of the state in which an individual can be sacrificed, Illarionov said. “Numerous articles and speeches recently published and delivered by our leaders, including the address which the president delivered today, demonstrate the fundamental difference between our current philosophy, the philosophy of the current Russian authorities and the philosophy which initiated modern civilization and which allowed it to develop and grow strong, the civilization which is based on the individual, on the freedoms, rights and democratic development of the individual,” he said. Illarionov said Putin’s address clearly showed Russia’s choice of philosophy, “the choice — although in a slightly different ideological wrapping — which our country had been following during the pervious 70 years and which led to the greatest geopolitical catastrophe”.

As regards Putin’s proposal that the Russian ruble should be made a fully convertible currency from July 1, 2006, Illarionov said that “the task of making the ruble a fully convertible currency is not essential and not serious in any way”. “A credit history is needed to bring the Russian ruble on a par with the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen. This history could be quite long, it could take a decade or several decades,” he said. According to Illarionov, a document authorizing the ruble’s convertibility could be signed overnight but it will not make the ruble an equal partner to other currencies straightaway. “A totally different economic policy should be pursued by the authorities, a policy which would not be perceived with apprehension by millions or tens of millions of people throughout the world,” he said.

Illarionov said the president’s proposal that an exchange should be set up in Russia to sell oil and gas for rubles in order to help the ruble become a fully convertible currency shows that the authorities fail to understand how stock markets work. From the economic point of view, it does not matter where wholesale trading in oil, gas, metals or machinery is taking place because these products are not physically involved in transactions at the exchange, he said. “Unfortunately, I should say, with regret, that this shows that the processes of modern world trade and modern world economic relations are not understood in full measure,” he said. It does not matter if Russian oil is sold for rubles or for dollars, he added.

Its no longer just litle ol' me who is saying this. Now it is one of Putin's own former aides and a highly respected source at that. Anyone believe me now?