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Diplomacy and Military Power: Russia versus the West

Marcelo Rech

On March 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a speech in the Parliament that the country has developed a series of weapons as a means of asserting its voice and strength to the world. According to the chief of Kremlin, the six weapons presented are a response to the US anti-missile defense system.

“Before we had weapons, no one listened to us. Let them hear us now,” stated Putin, who was re-elected on Sunday, March 18, with almost 80% of the votes for another term of office. Obviously, the world reacted. There is great concern around the Russian policy of strengthening as a global player. For Europe and the United States, it is important that Moscow is willing to play a secondary role on the international stage. Neither one can do without Russia, but both want it under control.

Regarding the weapons announced, Vladimir Putin assured that they were developed to defend the country and not to attack. The speech does not differ from those already delivered by Washington, London or Beijing. Military power is critical for an actor so to play equal to equal in the geopolitical chess. Moreover, a submissive or supporting Russia bears no relation to Putin’s style.

In this sense, the former chief of the KGB detailed what is the Sarmat – a heavy system of intercontinental missiles –; a nuclear-powered cruise missile with ‘unlimited range’; a nuclear-armed unmanned undersea vehicle; the Kinzhal – an air-launched hypersonic missile system; nuclear-armed hypersonic boost glide vehicles; and laser defense systems.

One of the most striking weapons is a submarine torpedo capable of causing unimaginable destruction. The nuclear-powered drone was developed within the framework of the Oceanic Multipurpose System Project called STATUS-6. US military have acknowledged the existence of this weapon and its ability to circumvent the defenses of the United States.

The STATUS-6 is an unmanned 10-megaton torpedo that can reach a speed of 185 km/h, operate at a depth of one thousand meters and that has practically unlimited range. It is also a silent weapon, for it does not emit any signal, making its detection impossible.

Since it does not divert from its target until the latter is struck and possesses a powerful nuclear charge, it is already seen as the deadliest threat ever built. To get an idea of its lethality, STATUS-6 is 500 times more potent than the nuclear bombs launched by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

If it were launched against North American territory, it would annihilate cities such as New York, Boston and Washington, besides causing tsunamis with 30-meter-tall waves, also affecting Latin America. US officials recognize that the United States does not have weapons or technology capable of refraining unmanned underwater vehicles.

As Mila Milosevich, main investigator at the Real Instituto Elcano in Madrid recalls, “from the Cold War emerged a solid leadership by the United States, a more integrated Europe and a strong common vision of the international liberal order. Regrettably, nowadays we do not have a common vision, we have an unpredictable American president and an Europe with many unresolved problems.” It is obvious that Putin has taken advantage of this scenario.

On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that, once re-elected, he announced that in 2019 he intends to reduce the military spending. Maybe it is time to seek a better relationship with Moscow.

Marcelo Rech is a journalist, director of InfoRel, specialist in International Relations, Strategies and Policies of Defense, Terrorism and Counterinsurgence and the Impact of Human Rights in Armed Conflicts.
E-mail: inforel@inforel.org.

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