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No, Putin Isn’t Bluffing on Nukes

Earlier this month in his State of the Nation address [1] to the Russian legislature, President Vladimir Putin unveiled several new strategic weapons designed to nullify any missile defense shield the United States has deployed, is currently deploying, or will seek to deploy in the next 10 to 15 years.

Putin said these new Russian weapons were necessitated by former president George W. Bush’s 2002 decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty [2], thereby beginning a process that has led to the deployment of ballistic missile defenses on American territory, in Europe, and in Asia. He proclaimed that “Russia’s growing military power is a solid guarantee of global peace as this power preserves and will preserve strategic parity and the balance of forces in the world, which, as is known, have been and remain a key factor of international security after WWII and up to the present day.”

Putin—who just won re-election in Russia, [3] securing another six-year term—went on to note:

Those who in the past 15 years have tried to accelerate an arms race and seek unilateral advantage against Russia, have introduced restrictions and sanctions that are illegal from the standpoint of international law aiming to restrain our nation’s development, including in the military area, I will say this: everything you have tried to prevent through such a policy has already happened. No one has managed to restrain Russia. Now we have to be aware of this reality and be sure that everything I have said today is not a bluff—and it is not a bluff, believe me—and to give it a thought and dismiss those who live in the past and are unable to look into the future.

change_me

In the aftermath of Putin’s address, the world was left wondering what to make of his brash declarations.

In remarks directly citing Putin’s speech, President Trump noted [4] the dangers of an arms race, and then went on to a little boasting himself, saying America “was spending $700 billion a year” to make ensure that the United States remained “stronger than any other nation in the world by far.”

So was Putin’s own foray into post-Cold War superpower gamesmanship merely a bluff? The New York Times certainly thought so. A front-page article [5] co-authored by two of the Gray Lady’s preeminent national security correspondents, Neil MacFarquhar and David Sanger, emphasized what they called “bluff theory” when citing expert opinion on Putin’s speech. One such “independent” analyst, Alexander Golts (notable for his anti-Putin commentary [6]), noted that Putin, in his speech, was describing a totally new generation of weapons. “The question is,” Golts asks, “is this true?”

MacFarquhar and Sanger mined social media, pulling up the Facebook commentary of another expert, Douglas Barrie [7]a senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, whose analysis on Russian military capabilities runs heavy on skepticism. Barrie noted that the weapons Putin described “could alter the balance of power.” However, MacFarquhar and Sanger noted, Barrie questioned whether Russia was even close to deploying such systems: “Does reality mean you have an item in the budget saying, ‘Develop nuclear propulsion for a missile’? Or does it mean, ‘We’re going to have one ready to use soon’? I’d certainly want to see more evidence to believe that.”

The doubting Thomases quoted in the New York Times were matched in their nonchalance by the senior-most advisors to President Donald Trump on matters of national defense and security, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Calling Putin’s announced weapons programs “an arms race with themselves [8],” Mattis declared that Russia “can sink all of that money in,” noting that “it does not change my strategic calculation.” Pompeo told Fox News that “We are following and tracking all of this closely,” and that “Americans should rest assured that we have a very good understanding of the Russian program and how to make sure that Americans continue to be kept safe from threats from Vladimir Putin.”

The intellectual stasis displayed by both Mattis and Pompeo is disturbing. These are not so-called “experts” drummed up by the New York Times to further the anti-Putin narrative that has become the centerpiece of the Times’s coverage over the years, but rather serious professionals who hold the security of the United States in their hands. Putin’s pronouncements during his State of the Nation address weren’t a spur-of-the-moment articulation of fantasy, but rather, as he made quite clear, the byproduct of more than a decade of focused intent to counter the threat posed to Russian national security by America’s ballistic missile defense programs. Not only had Russia not masked its intentions in this regard, it had gone out of its way to make sure that the United States was aware of what it was doing and why. In 2007, Russia purposely leaked details about the RS-28 “Sarmat” heavy missile that featured prominently in Putin’s 2018 State of the Nation address to the CIA in a futile effort to get the United States to seriously engage in arms control negotiations.  

The RS-28 is a direct descendant of the R-36 heavy ballistic missile, better known by its NATO reporting name, the SS-18 “Satan,” which over the course of its nearly 45 years in service has been an acknowledged game changer in terms of American-Russian strategic balance. The R-36’s large throw-weight (almost 20,000 pounds) allowed it to carry either a single extremely large warhead of 20 megatons or 10 independently targetable warheads of 500 to 750 kilotons each (by way of comparison, the American atomic bombs used to destroy the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War possessed yields of 21 and 15 kilotons, respectively). When the R-36 became operational, it gave the Soviets a genuine first-strike capability, able to eliminate over 60 percent of American missile launch control facilities and missile silos while retaining the capability to launch another 1,000 warheads as a second strike, should the United States choose to retaliate.  

From its inception, the United States considered the R-36 the single most destabilizing strategic weapon in the Soviet arsenal and eliminating and/or limiting it became a focal point of American arms control efforts. The START I Treaty saw the number of R-36 missiles deployed reduced from 308 to 154, and the entire R-36 arsenal was scheduled to be eliminated under the terms of the START II Treaty. The decision by the United States to withdraw from the ABM Treaty in 2002, however, resulted in Russia withdrawing from the START II Treaty in response, and as such maintaining its fleet of R-36 missiles. Russia had planned on allowing the R-36 missile to be retired through obsolescence with no intended replacement; this was the intent behind its START II negotiating position.

According to the Russian narrative [9], the unilateral American withdrawal from the ABM Treaty changed this calculus, prompting Russia to embark on an expensive service life extension program to keep the R-36 operationally viable through 2020. Russia, according to Putin, had hoped to re-engage with the United States on meaningful arms control negotiations, but the refusal on the part of the Americans to scale back their plans for ballistic missile defense made such efforts stillborn. The Russian defense industry began researching new ballistic missile technologies [10] that could overcome American missile defenses in 2004; this decision was made in public, Putin claims, [9] in the hope that the United States would recognize the inherent dangers posed by such a system and re-engage on meaningful arms control. One of the new missile technologies that was being explored was a follow-on to the aging R-36, known as the RS-28 “Sarmat.”

The RS-28 is far more than a follow-on to the aging R-36 missile—it is, fundamentally, an entirely new weapon the likes of which the United States has never before seen. The “Sarmat” retains its impressive throw-weight while reducing its overall weight by nearly 50 percent by using advanced composite materials for the missile airframe and employing a new type of liquid-fuel propulsion system—the PDY-99 “pulse detonation” engine—that hyper-accelerates the RS-28 into orbit, reducing the infrared signature of the launch as well as the time available to American early-warning satellites to detect such a launch. The RS-28 is designed to either be armed with 10 750-kiloton independently targeted maneuvering warheads, each of which can destroy an American ICBM silo or launch control facility, or between 16 and 24 new hypersonic glide vehicles, each tipped with a 150-kiloton nuclear warhead, and likewise capable of taking out any hardened site on American soil. Either configuration provides Russia with the means to avoid launch detection, evade all missile defense systems, and destroy America’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nuclear force. In short, with the RS-28, Russia possesses a genuine first-strike capability that nullifies one third of America’s nuclear triad.  

Contrary to Secretary Mattis’s dismissive commentary, the RS-28 does, in fact, fundamentally alter the strategic balance between Russia and the United States. Moreover, Mike Pompeo knows full well that the Russians are not bluffing. Both Mattis and Pompeo had been laboring under the false impression that Russia could not afford to field a follow-on to the R-36 missile, especially considering that that missile had been built in the Ukraine during Soviet times, and as such those capabilities were lost to Russian defense industry. The RS-28, however, is a reality—the Russians simply reconfigured their own indigenous missile production capability [11] and will have at least 50 of the new missiles operational by 2020. It’s a reality that America’s leadership might want to factor into any future policy toward Moscow.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West’s Road to War [12].

38 Comments (Open | Close)

38 Comments To "No, Putin Isn’t Bluffing on Nukes"

#1 Comment By Paul On March 21, 2018 @ 10:27 pm

But are we not already across the finish line of this “race”? With the nukes we have already, we can blow up the world how many times?

#2 Comment By John_M On March 21, 2018 @ 11:16 pm

I used to work in this space 30+ years ago. So what else is new? The land based missiles have been vulnerable for decades. That is why we used to have the rail mobile MX. And why we considered shell game silo deployments.

There is a good case for removing the land based missiles alltogether. They are too inviting of a target. If you are worried about anti-sub advances, for fallback security, you can put a few of the boomers in the great lakes.

After a few years doing this stuff on the side, I am not sure about the damage to my soul. I had to get out before I truly became Dr. Strangelove. But I fail to see any reason to panic. Putin’s new toys do not threaten MAD.

I would assume that there will be more pressure for more stealthy missiles and more funding for hypersonic scramjets.

#3 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 21, 2018 @ 11:46 pm

While I don’t think Pres Putin has a desire to have fist of cuffs with the US,

I am not sure why anyone would doubt his sincerity or that of Russia to take a deliberate confrontation by the US in Syria seriously.

#4 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On March 22, 2018 @ 2:05 am

Good review from Scott Ritter. This is true Putin is not bluffing.
However, missiles do not pose a danger by themselves.
Arrogance, contempt and smugness are more significant dangers.
I remember several startling proposals for the joint development of new weapons, which the Russian authorities did to the American side, but these proposals were contemptuously ignored.
Now, in fact, the civil split in American society poses a greater threat to Russia than the American army.
[13]
As the disagreements between Russia and the United States are resolved, the crack between the Americans will heal.
[14]
There are really ambitious tasks for these two countries, which can be solved jointly.

#5 Comment By Realist On March 22, 2018 @ 2:59 am

“Trump says no one wants an arms race, but the Russians are already out of the gate.”

This is demonstrably not true….the West does.

#6 Comment By DanJ On March 22, 2018 @ 3:08 am

As the saying goes; Russia is never as strong as she claims, and never as weak as she appears.

If the new RS-28 is operational or not doesn’t really matter, the US has no means of defense from an all-in attack by Russia’s current nuclear arsenal either. The MAD doctrine is alive and well.

#7 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 22, 2018 @ 6:25 am

Paul, the finish line is when the world is destroyed, because one side sought to make nuclear war winnable.

#8 Comment By DrivingBy On March 22, 2018 @ 7:11 am

@Paul

We sharply reduced our arsenal after the historic mutual arms control agreements with Russia. We don’t have the ability to “blow up the world” once at the moment, nor do we need it, unless Russia continues on a path to restarting the Cold War. Quit getting your information from Hollywood.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 22, 2018 @ 9:09 am

“As the saying goes; Russia is never as strong as she claims, and never as weak as she appears,”

Should the international gambit fail. Should they miscalculate and it entirely possible. My issue with taking on the Russians is that she knows what it is to be technologically out matched. We on the other-hand have only experience attacks of our shipping along our coastal waters by a few submarines —

if the leadership blows it and we have to fight a conflict best avoided, I am sure we could prevail. But we will not prevail without cost.

#10 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 22, 2018 @ 9:12 am

I am trying to figure out how we went from US first to war with Iran, Syria, Russia, North Korea . . . and whoever is next up.

I am more impacted by the war along our Southerner borders that incessantly creeps inward.

#11 Comment By SDS On March 22, 2018 @ 9:26 am

Hell; we’ve been poking those people in the eye for over 25 years now; sooner or later they will poke back….and we’re “SHOCKED; SHOCKED!!”

#12 Comment By Slugger On March 22, 2018 @ 9:44 am

Let’s take this seriously, think about it long and hard, and not jump to any conclusions. The USSR collapsed in part because the economic challenges of the arms race. We have just passed a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit budget. We should carefully weigh the benefit of any new program including bigger, badder nukes.
Is Putin bluffing? Let’s reverse the question. Can we take anything he says as straight forward exposition without an occult agenda? Would Putin lure us into an economically destructive arms race if he could?

#13 Comment By Mark Thomason On March 22, 2018 @ 10:19 am

Russia may be out the gate now, but the US is already far ahead down the field. This did not start with the Russian move.

#14 Comment By LouisM On March 22, 2018 @ 10:33 am

A nuclear arsenal that gives a 1st strike advantage changes the game of nuclear deterrent. I cannot help but wonder why is Russia seen as a threat and demonized but China is not. China can use North Korea as a nuclear 1st strike on the US and sit back watching how the US responds. China is militarizing the South China Sea and bullying other Southeast Asian nations as overtly and covertly as they bully Taiwan. Yet there is no real political class demonizing China as a threat to world peace or claiming Communist Chinese elections or sham elections or that Trump should not have respectful relations with China. Meanwhile China has been building up its military, locking up key technology industries thru unfair global competitive practices and locking up key resources particularly those needed for war. Yet no one demonizes China.

However, Russia has a while political class of neocons and neoliberals who are solidly anti-Russian and want war with Russia. The mentality hasn’t changed because Russia has relations with Syria and Iran. These anti-Russian constituencies have existed since the cold war and never ended.

The arms race started a long long time ago. Its just that with Obama in the white house the US was happy not to play the game and let Russia and China perform their military building up while we ignored it. Even under BushII the US wanted Mideast war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan more than it wanted to engage in a military modernization program of our army, navy, air force, space, cyber and nuclear deterent. We are still more interested in war than military modernization. Part of it can only be answered as proxy wars for our allies (Israel and Saudi Arabia) who consider Iran a threat particularly if it can go nuclear and Israel wants the US in Syria against the Russians because a failed Islamic state in Syria is destabilizing threat to Israel. The problem here is common sense. If the US spends all its money on proxy wars for allies rather than military modernization then one day those allies will not find as much protection in the US as they blindly trusted. Nations need to regroup and rebuild. Nations cannot engage in perpetual war and remain financially solvent and technological leaders.

#15 Comment By georgyporgy On March 22, 2018 @ 11:29 am

Funny how these American neo-cons and armchair warriors think themsevles invincible.

Reminds me of an old song British soliders serving on the western front during WW1 used to sing.

Hush, here comes a whizzbang
Hush, here comes a whizzbang
Come on you solider boys
Get down those stairs
Into your dugouts
And say your prayers.

Hush here comes a whizzbang
And its headed straight for you
And you’ll see all the wonders
Of No-Man’s Land
When that whizzbang hits you

Now with a few up to date changes.

Hush here comes a Sarmat
Hush here comes a Sarmat
Come on you neo-cons
Get down those stairs
Into you fall-out shelter
and say your prayers

Hush here comes a Sarmat
and its headed straight for you
And you’ll see all the wonders
of the mushroom cloud
When that Sarmat hits you.

#16 Comment By Michael Kenny On March 22, 2018 @ 11:45 am

This sounds like panic. Nobody believes Putin’s claims about his new weapons and by calling for arms control talks, Trump has wrongfooted him. If Putin fails to deliver something meaningful, including in regard to the reasons why there’s an arms race in the first place (Ukraine, the suspicion that Putin is trying to re-establish the Soviet Union, if not the whole Soviet “empire” in Eastern Europe), he will reveal himself as an intransigent leader who responds only to the use of military force. Trump also wrongfoots himself. If he gives away anything meaningful without getting equally meaningful concessions from Putin, he will confirm the suspicions underlying Russiagate. And Trump must “deliver” before the midterms in order to avoid the whole thing blowing up in the Republicans’ faces. In other words, both Trump and Putin have to find a pretext to cause the talks to come to nothing and then blame it on the other.

#17 Comment By Jake V On March 22, 2018 @ 12:38 pm

Putin is not a nice man. But neither is he Stalin.

The Left which almost sided with the Soviets during the last Cold War now for some reason thinks Putin and Russia today are suddenly evil and must be opposed always and everywhere. They oppose Putin and Russia only because they oppose Trump. And that’s dangerous. Hillary’s “reset” was praised. Obama’s comments to Medvedev that he can better work with Vladimir after Obama won re-election in 2012 was praised. Putin and Russia are unchanged. The Left in America hold their positions only because they oppose Trump.

I don’t agree with the Russian perspective, but it is only fair to understand it. In the 1996 President Clinton sent people and money to make sure that Yeltsin was re-elected. Earlier, when the Berlin Wall fell the United States and NATO promised Russia that NATO would promise not to expand east if Russia agreed to East Germany rejoining West Germany. In 2014 the U.S. instigated the overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych. And don’t forget that in 2002 President Bush withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Russia does not trust us. And with good reason.

The only way forward is to return to diplomacy and hammer out agreements. And renew President Reagan’s “Trust, but verify”.

#18 Comment By Steven Starr On March 22, 2018 @ 1:13 pm

DrivingBy says: “We don’t have the ability to “blow up the world” once at the moment”.

Sorry, incorrect. The launch-ready nuclear weapons of both the US and Russia, if detonated in conflict, will create a nuclear winter that would wipe out most people and other complex forms of life.

Please read the 2007 peer-reviewed study: “Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current
nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences” at [15]

#19 Comment By b. On March 22, 2018 @ 1:13 pm

This article
[16]

claims – referring to TASS and other sources – that the “Avangard will apparently be equipped with a single massive thermonuclear warhead with a yield exceeding two megatons”, and calls it a deterrent/retaliation weapon.

I have other problems with the claims made here: the notion of an ICBM “first strike” by Russia against the US is ridiculous unless one assumes that Russia could successfully use SLBM’s to delay land-based Triad launches by air bursts racing to be “launch on warning” until ICBMs have reached those silos. To take this seriously requires the kind of psychological projection endemic to US military posture, where one assumes – or gainfully pretends – that options attractive to “our side” are allegedly pursued by “the other side” (followed by the claim that the best way to counter a destabilizing technology is to make the destabilization campaign symmetric).

If there is serious concern regarding the vulnerability of the land-based Triad to Russian “first strike” (which always implies “surprise” with much less than 20 minutes to impact), especially given the US Launch On Warning posture, then we should follow William Perry et.al. and eliminate in favor of resilient means of counter-value reprisal. If US submarines could attack Russian R-36 or RS-28 in their silos – more vulnerable to counterforce than solid propellant ICBMs – due to lack of SLBM precision, that is a feature, not a vulnerability. If anything, our warheads are too precise already.

For Mattis to declare that Russia “can sink all of that money in [..] an arms race with themselves” is the height of projection, given the Obama push for modernizing the Triad and its warheads, and the Payne effort culminating in the Mattis/Trump Nuclear Posture Review. Indeed, Putin’s declaration of the intent to deploy credible means of reprisal against current and future US BMD combined with US first strike capabilities explain why Mattis can confidently state “it does not change my strategic calculation.” The DoD welcomes the Russian attempt to counter US counterforce capabilities, because if provides a pretext for more of it.

The signatories to the 1972 ABM Treaty understood this. Mattis does, too – but he does not intend to work towards balance and status quo. As long as Russia can credibly retaliate, regime change in Moscow is a long ways off.

#20 Comment By kahn On March 22, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

They used to predict the radioactive fallout from anybody’s first strike would destroy all of humankind. Not so anymore?

#21 Comment By Holger Fraenzl On March 22, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

Why do the Americans always believe they are superior to all other nations?
Well – here you should REALLY understand that the Russians will never will accept to be ruled by any other nation – and most Russians still think of the Jelzin era as a traumatic era they never want to have again.
So, if the US are a wise nation, they should bury all their imperial ideas as soon as possible. You have (almost) a whole country of your own – you have some trusty allies – there is nothing wrong about that. But please stop dreaming about “world dominance” – if you do not want to become the biggest threat to mankind earth has ever seen!

#22 Comment By John Gruskos On March 22, 2018 @ 3:11 pm

I don’t see how the new weapons change anything.

Even with the new Russian weapons, the Russians would never be able to achieve first strike capability.

Even without the new weapons Russian weapons, the United States would never be able to achieve first strike capability.

The use of nuclear weapons in a hypothetical Russo-American war is still, and always will be, as unthinkable as it ever was.

If anything, Putin may be trying to trick the United States into overspending on our military and thus hastening our relative economic decline, much as Ronald Reagan tricked the Soviet Union into overspending on their military – with disastrous economic consequences.

An army equal in fighting power to the Mexican army, and an airforce/navy/nuclear force equal in fighting power to their Chinese equivalents, would be a more than sufficient armed force to secure America’s true interests (as opposed to neocon ambitions).

A Russo-American arms race or Cold War 2.0, on the other hand, would just accelerate the relative decline of both America and Russia.

#23 Comment By Quartermaster On March 22, 2018 @ 6:38 pm

@Jake

The US did not instigate the overthrow of Yanukovich. Yanukovich was not expelled from office until he ran for Russia and abandoned is office when his people rose up against him signing an agreement with Russia that would have them back under Moscow’s thumb. Not even the majority of the so called “Russian” regions have any desire to be under Moscow again.

The “coup” business is simply Putinist propaganda.

#24 Comment By LesB On March 22, 2018 @ 9:20 pm

“In short, with the RS-28, Russia possesses a genuine first-strike capability that nullifies one third of America’s nuclear triad.”

I am sure Putin is quite well aware that the US would then use the other two remaining legs to destroy Russia. And for that reason he would never launch such a strike. MAD is alive and well.

#25 Comment By DrivingBy On March 22, 2018 @ 9:47 pm

@John_M

Your soul is fine, your work was essential.

The Soviets/Russians, NK, Pakistan Iran and whoever’s next are going full throttle regardless of what you do. While the stuff is a nightmare if used, it’s better that ours are, if at all possible, faster, larger, more reliable and more accurate than theirs and that they also survive a first strike, even if some bureaucratic office determines that “nobody” will attempt one.
Make that especially after we believe nobody will attempt one. I’m a little concerned that the modernized command and control links for the ICBM system won’t be un-hackable and Doomsday-proof like the ’60s analog system was.

Yes, further arms control (inculding Pakistan’s 300+ nukes) would be far better than an arms race. Ya can’t usually get what ya want, gotta deal with the gambling den we’re in.

#26 Comment By Patricus On March 22, 2018 @ 10:36 pm

Russia’s economy is half the size of Great Britains. It is 7 or 8% of our economy. Lots of rockets for their final act of suicide. What have they gained?

#27 Comment By DrivingBy On March 22, 2018 @ 10:37 pm

@Steven Starr

I’m in no way advocating for a nuclear war, or stating that one would be in some way acceptable. But the current US arsenal would not level any significant portion of the Earth’s land area.

Nuclear winter remains controversial. The original paper was a bit of anti-war agitation, and has been very much debunked, as you know. It may have been well-intentioned agitation, but it was not scientifically sound. Further work shows that a climate disaster is possible, but this depends on the volume of smoke generated from ordinary fires *and* that smoke reaching very high into the atmosphere.
The most similar event we have for comparison is the Kuwait oil well fires lit by Iraq on their way out. There were 700 such fires, which generated a thick, evil oily smoke, ideal for causing climatic impact. As it turns out, not much happened. Would post-nuke fires behave the same way? We don’t know.

There is enough reason to make great efforts to reduce the chances of nuclear war without invoking nuclear winter. The collapse of civilization, with probably most of the USA turning not into a post-industrial socialist farming utopia but into a Road Warrior dystopia (but more brutal) is only one of the possible miseries of a full-scale nuke war.

#28 Comment By M. Orban On March 23, 2018 @ 9:05 am

I wonder how long the Russian people is willing to eat dirt for the sake of imperial greatness. Russia’s economy is somewhere between that of Italiy’s and Brazil’s. Those nukes don’t come cheap.

#29 Comment By Igout On March 23, 2018 @ 5:45 pm

But wasn’t there a second audience for Putin’s menacings? China.

#30 Comment By Tiktaalik On March 25, 2018 @ 3:11 am

>>Russia’s economy is half the size of Great Britains. It is 7 or 8% of our economy.

>>Russia’s economy is somewhere between that of Italiy’s and Brazil’s.

Actually, not.
Russia’s economy is 1.5 times larger than GB’s and more than 1.5 times larger than Italy’s
It’s around 20% of US

[17]

#31 Comment By Josep On March 25, 2018 @ 3:58 am

@ Holger Fraenzl
It’s rather sad to see how some “conservative” Americans have no problem with American cultural elements (e.g. fast food) entering other countries, but balk at the idea of foreign countries’ cultural elements (e.g. soccer) as a threat to American exceptionalism. Talk about double standards!

The fact that America bailed Europe out in two world wars and landed man on the moon doesn’t mean the Europeans have to grovel to America at every step at the risk of getting bullied.
For example, the French gave us hot-air balloons, the Braille system, the Statue of Liberty, and pasteurization. Come 2003, the butthurt Americans created this “Freedom Fries” malarkey. All because France simply disagreed.

This notion of American exceptionalism is a rather pathetic excuse to justify rejecting ideas that have benefited people in other developed countries, especially Israel.

In a few years, I’ll be spending my tax dollars (er, I mean, yen, rubles or zlotys) in a country that doesn’t see itself above others.

#32 Comment By Claus Eric Hamle On March 26, 2018 @ 4:34 am

648 missiles in Poland and Romania and on 32 ships in the Mediterranean “to defend us from Iran” ??? How may the Russians react ? Of course, by Launch On Warning and posibly Suicide by mistake. The stupid, crazy, aggressive United Bluff asked for it. But the children deserve a future.

#33 Comment By GPC On March 26, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

Yes, Russia is bluffing but is bluffing only up to the moment just before Putin presses the nuclear launch button.

#34 Comment By Moleman On March 26, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

Really guys, let’s not talk only of weapons. Let’s add a little debat about politicians too.
I have never heard somebody claim that President Putin doesn’t care for his country. What western politician can claim the same???

#35 Comment By Christian Jüers On March 26, 2018 @ 10:02 pm

The Russians now have two large, missile carrying submarines of an improved Akula class. Like the earlier models, the new ships carry 20 long-range missiles that are far more powerful than the original RSM-52. One ship of this class is on station in the Arctic and the Russians have developed coatings that make detection virtually impossible. Also, the secret CIA underwater detection devices run out of their Scots-bases are unable to detect these units. When a signal is received on the submarine, the boat surfaces, fires her missiles and then submerges and returns to its home base in northern Russia. The range of the new missiles is such that all the American major population centers are covered. It should be noted, however, that unless a deterrent is known to an enemy, its purpose is faulted. It is always entertaining to read that no one has better weapons or stronger defenses than the United States.

#36 Comment By Jonathan Stern On March 27, 2018 @ 12:02 am

Time for a new version of the MX that missile put the ss-18 in its place.

A new version of the MX missile will put the RS 28 in its place.

Arms race Russia until their economy breaks. Been there done that can do it again

Peacekeeper was better than the SS-18 and the Peace Keeper II will be better than the RS 28.

Peace Keeper II
Peace Keeper II

#37 Comment By Joe Wallace On March 30, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

M. Orban:

“I wonder how long the Russian people is willing to eat dirt for the sake of imperial greatness. Russia’s economy is somewhere between that of Italiy’s and Brazil’s. Those nukes don’t come cheap.”

With respect, your argument applies equally strongly to the United States, which now devotes 57% of its discretionary budget to the military. True, the U.S. is much wealthier than Russia, but nukes aren’t cheap here either. We are already neglecting infrastructure spending on roads, bridges, electrical grids, education, social welfare, etc. in favor of military spending.

#38 Comment By r smith On April 12, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

This is the 21st century. Being surrounded by water was great 100 years ago, but now, we have no shield at all. The USA can be wiped out in a matter of minutes. Residents have no training, shelters or basic survival skills. Any first strike would destroy the USA. Most of us are to busy getting fat and playing games to pay any attention to reality. But you don’t need to worry cause if it was to happen it would be over before you even knew it was coming.