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