Russian nukes would cause ‘overwhelming damage’ to any potential enemy – Moscow

Russia’s nuclear deterrence is strong enough to ensure a “level of unacceptable damage” to any potential aggressor, the Chief of the General Staff has said.

Reporting on the state of the Russian strategic nuclear forces on Tuesday, General Valery Gerasimov said some 74 percent of the arsenal employed cutting-edge technology.

“Today the strategic nuclear forces are capable to inflict a guaranteed level of unacceptable damage to any aggressor, including those possessing antiballistic missile defense,” he said. Gerasimov added that Russia was working on improving the arsenal in ways that did not violate the country’s international obligations on proliferation and arms reduction.

Speaking at a senior-level Defense Ministry meeting on Tuesday, Gerasimov said the military has improved its capability to detect a nuclear attack targeting Russia over the past few years. Among the 55 military spacecraft launches conducted over five years there were satellites used to detect missile launches from North America. They replace older outdated early-warning satellites. “Further development of the system will provide for a global persistent monitoring of the ballistic missile launch sites,” Gerasimov said.

The general added that Russia is continuing deployment of beyond-the-horizon radar stations, which are used to monitor the airspace around Russia. The network “detects mass deployment of aircraft and missile launches, including hypersonic missiles, at a range of over 1,000km from our borders,” he said.

In 2002, the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty, a key Cold War agreement with Moscow that banned development of anti-ballistic missile capabilities. Washington claimed that the move was necessary to protect itself and its allies from “rogue states” developing rocket technology, particularly Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

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Moscow perceives the abolition of the treaty and US effort to deploy elements of ABM system all around the world, including Eastern Europe, as undermining its nuclear deterrence. Russia responded to the move by upgrading its strategic nuclear arsenal with better countermeasures to be able to pierce through the American ABM shield.

The US insists that Russia’s concerns are unfounded, but with tension between the two nations currently at a level unseen since the Cold War, the Russian leadership is unlikely to change its approach.

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