[Freemanlist2] The Renaissance of the Cold War - Ami Rojkes Dombe

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Sat Feb 27 19:34:52 CST 2016

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The Renaissance of the Cold War
Russia's operational employment of cruise missiles possessing nuclear 
capabilities in the war in Syria has returned the world to the Cold War era. 
Are we witnessing the renaissance of a bipolar world?
Ami Rojkes Dombe | 25/02/2016

The Russian military involvement in Syria has produced quite a few 
headlines, and one of those headlines, in particular, cannot be ignored: it 
involves the first operational employment of Russian cruise missiles, 
launched from ships, submarines and aircraft. Putin decided to employ in 
Syria Russian missiles that were originally intended for use in a doomsday 
nuclear attack against the USA and Europe. The question is why this decision 
was made now, of all times.

One answer can be deterrence. Putin has operated in the Ukraine opposite 
Europe and has now entered the playground of the USA in the Middle East. A 
practical demonstration of operational Russian capabilities conveys a 
message of certainty – a major element in the psychological game of 

Another objective could be a sales promotion effort for the benefit of the 
Russian defense industry. Indeed, some people went as far as naming the 
Russian activity in Syria, quite cynically, as "the Lattakia Air Show".

The Caspian Sea First

The first salvo was launched last October. Russian Navy vessels operating in 
the Caspian Sea launched dozens of cruise missiles into Syria, a distance of 
1,500 kilometers from the targets. It was the first time in the history of 
the Russian Navy that these missiles were launched operationally. The 
missiles in question were the SS-N-27A "Sizzler". Variants of this missile 
can reach a range of 4,000 kilometers while carrying a 450 kilogram warhead.

A month later, the website "theaviationist" reported that Russian Tu-160 
Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers departed on a strike mission in 
Syria from the Olenegorsk airbase, through a 13,000 kilometer long route. 
Instead of flying over the Caspian Sea and Iran, they chose a different 
route – through Europe. During their flight along the borders of Europe, the 
Russian bombers remained in neutral skies but triggered scrambles by fighter 
aircraft of several NATO countries – a big hint to the decision makers in 
Paris, Berlin and London.

While over the Mediterranean, the Russian Tupolev bombers released KH-101 
"Raduga" cruise missiles aimed at ISIS targets. The cruise missiles in 
question have a range of about 3,000 kilometers and carry a 400 kilogram 
warhead. They were designed originally as a nuclear weapon (the KH-102 
variant has a yield of 250 kilotons).

Along with aircraft and surface vessels, Russia also employs submarines 
armed with cruise missiles. The missile salvo launched from the Caspian Sea 
may have included submarines. Another demonstrative employment of submarines 
occurred last December, when the Russian submarine Rostov-on-Don entered the 
Mediterranean, carrying anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles designed to 
engage ground targets. This submarine can remain submerged for about 45 days 
and the missiles it carries are Kalibr-PL missiles that have a range of 
300-2,500 kilometers. This missile variant belongs in the same category as 
the Kalibr-NK missiles launched from the Russian surface vessels in the 
Caspian Sea. The warhead of this missile ranges between 220-450 kilograms, 
depending on the specific model.

US and European Response

The Russians' employment of cruise missiles from ships, submarines and 
aircraft compels Europe to reinforce its air defenses. At the present time, 
Europe relies on a US air-defense system made up of naval vessels carrying 
SM-3 and SM-2 interceptors. The USA also aspires to deploy ground-based 
air-defense batteries in Poland and Romania.

The USA has not remained indifferent to the Russian cruise missiles. Last 
January, a new variant of the Tomahawk cruise missile, designated BLK IV, 
was tested and the USA announced the development of new technologies around 
UAVs, strategic bombers and cruise missiles. One of these technologies is 
the new Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon, which is currently under 
development. Additionally, the US arsenal includes the JASSM, NGP, MALD and 
NGM missiles, all of which should provide a solution in the event that the 
White House develops a particularly aggressive mood.

The USA will continue to channel funds for the defense of Europe. According 
to the website "spacewar", a budget of about US$ 790 million will be 
allotted to the European Reassurance Initiative. The website "news.usni.org" 
raises the question of whether the time has come to sell Tomahawk missiles 
to European countries in the context of US Foreign Military Sales (FMS).

Putin's recent employment of cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads 
has undoubtedly ushered the world into a renaissance of the Cold War and 
back to the chess board. Russian aircraft over Europe, US nuclear missiles 
in Europe and proxy wars in the Middle East. Could history be repeating 
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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